Collaborative Nonhuman Poetry

Stauffer Communication Arts B (STAUF-B) – Stauffer B135, Media Lab

Friday 27th, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Daniel Lichtman (Stockton University)

In this workshop participants will work together to compose a series of poems that meditate upon forms of intelligence and consciousness that cross taxonomic categories including animal, plant, fungal, alien and machine. Participants will create prompts for use in an Al text generator, and engage in a process of sharing and editing each other's prompts and machine generated responses. This emergent exchange of text fragments among workshop participants and the generative Al meditates upon potential non-human forms of sentience and communication such as signal transmission and decision making within dispersed fungal networks, symbiotic networks of resource exchange between fungi and plants, chemical communication of stress signals among different species plants in a forest (see Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life) or associative networks of training data within an Al learning model. During the workshop we (humans and machines) will edit text fragments into a series of poems to be published as a web-based artwork. Potential themes to speculate upon or play out through the creative process include non-human forms of subjectivity, memory, vulnerability, embodiment, disembodiment, community, and spirituality. We will supplement the text with found images, sounds and field recordings to further explore themes raised during the editing process.  This workshop departs from Lichtman's work Cicada Mountain (https://www.daniellichtman.com/cicada-mountain/), a series of absurdist narratives that tell stories of vulnerability, insecurity and dreams of anthropomorphic and spiritual grandeur from the perspectives of a series of insects, animals and plants. This piece itself grew out of the Al Radio Play workshop with Ash Eliza Smith, Jinku Kim and Robert Twomey at the 2022 SLSA Conference. Note from organizers: this workshop asks participants to please bring their own laptops to participate in workshop activities.