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The Readers Project by John Cayley and Daniel Howe

John Cayley and Daniel Howe, in The Readers Project, have made a digital collaboration which explores the impact on human subjectivity of computational interventions in the literary, and in writing and reading. Cayley writes that this project ‘relates to our encounters with literary language.’ In practical terms, the readers in question are not in the first instance human readers, but ‘programmed autonomous entities that read through texts in a variety of different ways’. As Cayley writes:

The Readers Project visualizes reading, although it does not do this in the sense of miming conventional human reading. Rather, the project explores and visualizes new potentials for reading, potentials that are motivated by revealing conscious and subconscious linguistic relations.

The use of intelligent technology here allows for a digital system to write as it reads, and to offer human readers the chance to follow the texts generated, choosing between the outputs of separate ‘programmed entities’ or the integrated outputs of several. The work uses natural language information drawn from a corpus of human language use, so that it explores the intersection between human and artificial language processing.

John Cayley writes digital media, particularly in the domain of poetry and poetics. Recent and ongoing projects include imposition with Giles Perring, riverIsland, and what we will ... I

Daniel C. Howe is an artist and researcher whose work focuses on generative systems for image, sound and text, and on the social and political implications of computational technologies. He has a PhD in computer science and an MFA in interactive media and digital literature. He currently lives in Hong Kong where he teaches at City University's School of Creative Media.