Sofian Audry and Monty Cantsin?

The Sense of Neoism?! An Infinite Manifesto, 2018. Photo credit: Anna Iarovaia

The Sense of Neoism?! An Infinite Manifesto (2018) is an installation that seeks to to transfer the spirit of revolutionary avant-garde movement neoism?! into a machine that can indefinitely generate neoist blurbs, reflexions, motos, and nonsense. Underlying the system is an artificial neural network machine learning algorithm with hundreds of thousands of synapses that was fed thousands of pages of neoist propaganda, including The Book of Neoism?!The Poetical Plunderground of Neoism?!, and Reclaiming the Bodymachine, allowing it to build its own understandings of Neoism?!

A collaboration between Sofian Audry and Monty Cantsin? aka Istvan Kantor Amen!, the work re-embodies the collective brain of open pop star Monty Cantsin? into a technological substrate with a life of its own. The machine resembles an audio gear box with dozens of jack plugs that reproduce the inner workings of the artificial neural network. At the top of the machine, an LED panel is used by the system to endlessly regurgitates its own new Neoism?! verses. Anyone can meddle directly with the artificial neural synapses by unplugging, replugging, and criss-crossing jack cables directly on the machine, thus deconstructing, reconstructing, and even destroying the generative capabilities of the system in real-time.

The simple fact that the outburst of Neoism?! coincided with the explosion of New Technology in the early 80s might have been by accident. But at the time when Neoism?! went amok and mutated into a world wide communication network, Artificial Intelligence was also heavily implemented in the increasing planetarian operations of computer control technology. Neoism?!, representing an ever growing independent multi-faceted network-entity, responded to the new rules of technology with both, refusal and vision, resulting in a platform of revolutionary subvertainment.

Technological Concept

The machine continuously produces text generated by an artificial intelligence algorithm akin to those used for speech recognition, automated translation and language analysis, namely a deep learning recurrent artificial neural network. This model has been pre-trained on a database of neoist texts comprising almost 2.5 millions characters. Once trained, the network is able generate new words and texts that resemble the style of the neoist database. The generated texts are not exact replicas of whole or parts of the original texts, but rather attempts by the neural network to create new neoist texts.

The artificial neural network is a purely digital structure that requires millions of calculations in order to generate each character. However, the physical hookups arranged on the machine correspond directly to connections on the neural net, therefore allowing visitors to manipulate these connections through a software called brainfuck specifically created for the work. Each cable unhooked on the machine disconnects several thousands synapses within the neural network, therefore enabling direct action on the artificial intelligence system; disconnecting, reconnecting and inverting the wiring allows to reconfigure the system and to directly observe its effects on the generated texts.