page with an excellent history of the "a million monkeys at a million typewriters" meme, stretching back in one form or another to Aeneid http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/chwp/CHC2005/Butler/Butler.htm#_1 which makes me wonder if any dada artists were familiar with Émile Borel's work (specifically the infinite monkey thing), they would have been contemporaneous and in the same place!
"In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course [...] left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes crested macaques.... [...] Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it." this is probably the only poem that has ever been written https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem#Real_monkeys
all of this turned up sorta peripherally when trying to figure out why Kenner and O'Rourke called their program "Travesty" (the Byte magazine version which is commonly cited as popularizing Markov chain text generation) https://elmcip.net/sites/default/files/media/critical_writing/attachments/1984_11_byte_09-12_travesty.pdf ("travesty," of course, comes from French _travestir_ "cross-dress"; its cognate is a reclaimed pejorative for trans people in South America; the whole thing brings to mind Turing's gender "imitation game" and I'm wondering if that was intentional)
OED has a specific definition of "travesty" as a "literary composition which aims at exciting laughter by burlesque and ludicrous treatment of a serious work; [...] hence, a grotesque or debased imitation or likeness; a caricature" which seems like the kind of thing that Kenner would have been referencing. but there's definitely something here about how imitation and "genuineness" in the context of computation is often intertwined with gender identity
final note on this for the night: I'm not sure why Kenner and O'Rourke's
"Travesty" article gets so much recognition in literary and computational creativity crowds (sometimes even said to be the *origin* of Markov chain text generation)—their piece references & is written *in response to* Brian Hayes' "Computer Recreations: A progress report on the fine art of turning literature into drivel" https://www.jstor.org/stable/24969024 which to my eye is the more interesting, erudite and easy-to-read of the two
also Hayes proposed using the arithmetic on the n-gram vectors in the model for doing a kind of rudimentary "style transfer," which is definitely one of the the earliest examples of this kind of proposal I've seen (though he doesn't actually get it to work except in the simple "add two models together" example)
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