Writing Machine Collective | Edition 3 文字機器創作集 第三輯
WMC at Digit@logue

  • Date 日期
  • 15.05 – 20.07.2008
  • Venue 地點
  • Hong Kong Museum of Art 香港藝術館
  • Participating Artists 參展藝術家
  • Bryan CHUNG 鍾緯正 / Yvonne LAU 劉美延, Morgan WONG 黃榮法 / Hector RODRIGUEZ 羅海德 / Justin WONG 黃照達, Hamlet LIN 林耀邦, Eva SCHINDLING / Mike WONG 王健明

The Writing Machine Collective represented in the media art showcase and symposium series “Digit@logue”, one of the Hong Kong Museum of Art’s 4 competitive curatorial projects, awarded to Ellen Pau. The WMC showcase for the event is curated by Linda Lai, WMC’s Artistic Director.


Works presented by WMC at Digitalogue

I Second that e-Motion

Bryan CHUNG 鍾緯正

Motion tracking; writing on sand

It is a writing machine. A machine writes by itself automatically. Writing, in the usual sense, aims to establish its authority by being non-volatile. From time to time, we enjoy writing on the sand during our visits to the beach. Children may even build sand castles which by no means stand the tear and wear of wind and waves. Writing on sand can be a possible way to trigger reflection about volatility of recording and archive.

Digital media, according to what we learnt, demonstrates this volatile nature. In this project, I plan to make a simple machine that writes or draws on a pile of sand. The visible marks on the sand will not be legible but just records of what has been happening in the exhibition venue. Over the days of the show, it forms a historical archive of the visitors’ movement around the exhibit.

It is interactive, though I try to posit the piece as a parody of the motion tracking interactivity. It will be an artwork produced for exhibition in a gallery space with intended interaction from the visitors. It has no content in the traditional sense. Motion detection usually bases on a stationary camera, pointing to a relatively static background. Changes in front of the camera are compared with previous video frames. Motion is estimated by the various statistical or artificial intelligent computations. This installation purposely violates the above assumption and aims to set off an experiment with results yet to be observed.





Mike WONG 王健明

Technostalgia; on-line chatting; emoticons; visualization

Grapheme is a simple electronic device inspired by the ubiquitous emoticons used in our daily on-line chatting activities. This rapidly evolving visual language is quietly forming a new writing system which challenges the position and effectiveness of traditional languages in digital media. Emoticons which were once simple ASCII glyphs only but they are now slowly replaced by visually rich image bitmaps or animations.

Grapheme comprises of a blank keyboard, two obsolete PalmOS PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) reprogrammed by the artist and some outdated peripherals. It disables completely the use of regular alphabets, it only allows typing emoticons using the blank keyboard. Grapheme displays emoticons as image bitmaps on the color screen and as original ASCII glyphs on the monochrome screen. Grapheme is not meant to be a piece of interactive art, it is a piece of reprogrammed obsolete electronics which the artist created as a response to the evolution of emoticons.

Grapheme is a work from the artist’s Technostalgic project which features electronic and visual art pieces based on obsolete hardware and technologies as critical responses to various social and technological issues.





Hector RODRIGUEZ 羅海德

“Kinema” = Motion; “Graph” = Writing; Dictionary

Kinematograph explores the possibility of an alternative, and essentially writerly, form of cinema based on the display and analysis of video data. Kinematograph is part of a series of works that explore the fundamental concepts of information theory and cybernetics. The concept investigated here is entropy encoding.

The theory of encoding addressees one of the fundamental aspects of writing: the construction of a dictionary. To encode an item (a word, image, sound, etc.) is to associate it with a codeword. A dictionary is thus built, which relates every symbol transmitted by a source with a corresponding codeword. The title of this project is thus meant literally: “kinema” denotes “motion”, while “graph” means “writing”. Thus understood, the title invites us to regard computational cinema as a manifestation of writing, in its most fundamental sense.

Kinematograph can therefore be seen as a contribution to the search for alternative, information-based forms of cinematic and literary art in a digital age.

Kinematograph 嘗試用文字數據的模式播放影片。它的創造旨在探索資訊傳播中一些最基本的理念 – 熵編碼法 (entropy encoding)。

編碼法提出,其一最基本的寫作元素便是「字典」的建立。如我們要攝收一個訊息 (如文字、影像、聲音),便必須令它連上一個關鍵字。這本「字典」就是用作把符號與關鍵字連在一起。今次Kinematograph中的“kinema”是指活動,“graph”是指寫作,由此可見,此展品邀請我們從另一個角度- 就是從最基本的「字」去看電影。

Kinematograph的創造,是Hector Rodriguez在這個高科技的數碼世代中,對電影及文學藝術根本的探索與尋覓。


Curtain of Scripts 《簾卷詩》

Yvonne LAU 劉美延, Morgan WONG 黃榮法

Self-generative text / moving picture with text-formation / recursion

Standing in front of the long draping curtain, watching the imaginary mountains drift in space.

While I was learning about the “Recursive” program, the process of objects repeating itself hits me. It reminds me of the mountain drawing of Chinese ink paintings. If you look from a longer distance, one would be able to see stacks of mountains, overlapping each other, creating a “high-and-far” illusion within the long-frame canvas. When looked upon from a closer distance, layers of large and small, thick and thin, light and dark strokes compose each mountain. Though there are different qualities of strokes, they are repeating themselves with different patterns. The composition of the painting is basde on different ways of repetition.

Han characters are pictograms, while the character is derived from pictures, we read them visually. I picked a few familiar classic Chinese five-word – “Mountain Water” poems to be generated by the program. The poems have 2-2-1 or 2-1-2 groups of rhythm in every sentence, which enhances the musical sense. By using the “Recursive” program, the self-generated texts repeat themselves based on the rhythm that slowly appears on the canvas. The familiar poem becomes unfamiliar. We are no longer reading the poem linearly from left to right, from top to bottom. Instead, there are patterns of texts spread on canvas, which create a visual poetry. The disruptive script conflicts our senses.

Different from Calligrammes, you may not see the distinctive meaning on its own, but you may witness the abstract spatial rhythm while the word floats and flies in front of your eyes. The computer program emphasizes on the typographic and repetitive arrangement of script on space. Your brain cannot deny its understanding of the characters. The pattern and repetition of characters somewhat create a unique experience. The experience introduces a new way of reading the same classic Chinese poem.

The “Recursive” computer algorithm becomes a process that can be visualized through the repetition of the same character on the canvas. The repetition of the word “mountain” (山) induces a kind of perspective, as though we can sense numerous “mountains” in front of us. The sprinkle of scripts introduces to us different things as we see peer along the visiting mountains.

What amazes me about the unpredictable “Recursive” function is that every time the poem is generated by the same step, the return appears on the canvas will never be the same. If I assume that each poem is a mountain, then each time the program generates the same mountain, we can have different ways of seeing, reading, sensing and thinking about the same mountain. The visual experience enlightens our imagination.

你問我詩的意義是什麼?我會說詩是幻變的,寫詩是詩人的表達,喜愛讀詩的人往往會把喜愛的詩重覆閱讀,詩的詩意是能讓讀者於文字找尋自己的想象。 看詩的過程是讀者對文字的理解於腦海產生互動的意象。

學習遞歸程式時,遞歸的過程,函數不斷引用自身。令我聯想到水墨山水畫那高遠的意象,是一重重山堆疊形成,而每座山又由大大少少不斷重覆的筆觸產生。 山水畫喜歡以長卷去襯托連綿高遠的山峰,遠看那使人神往無窮遠山景致,近看卻驚嘆水墨節奏的無盡變化。

那我在想“可能利用遞歸程式的衍生特性將山水詩變成山水畫嗎?”漢字是表意字,單看字形本身就使觀者有所聯想。 我嘗試運用古代五言山水詩, 透過電腦遞歸程式重覆的特性, 文字沒有循規蹈矩於線上行走,讀詩不再從左至右,由上而下。 文字在空間產生了視覺節奏。 經歴電腦程式的運算,同一首詩每一次都會產生不同的閱讀。 觀眾在白色的長形布幕前,詩一句句在空間似隨意但又非隨機的逐步呈現。

如果說紀堯姆..阿波利奈爾的《图画诗》是以巨匠的描述構圖去表現詩的意象。 《簾卷詩》 那文字在空間的連綿流動,可會令觀眾感受字中有畫,畫中有詩? 觀眾可曾感受到遞歸程式帶給你的詩意?



Justin WONG 黃照達, Hamlet LIN 林耀邦, Eva SCHINDLING

SMS / mobile phone / typewriter / machine / spam messages / factory

Txt-Me-1st is a response to the generative process of spam messages we received daily. While people are trying hard to prevent them from entering their mailbox, there is much creativity in the way spam messages are composed in order to avoid being caught by anti-spam programs. The most common methods are the use of misspell words and trimming down of the whole sentences into keywords only. The final messages often end up with sentences that look completely random and fragmented, and yet readable in a certain sense.

Here is an example,

“of pure silver. This degradation, therefore, in the value of the money rents lesbian first time stories labour to learn, than in a month’s industry, at an ordinary and obvious hsnrihvjdrj”

Txt-Me-1st is inspired by the evolution of this new “writing method”. It shares a lot of similarities with some early text-based new media art in terms of the “randomness” and “emptiness” revealed in the works. It also reminds us of the playful and the rebellious nature in DaDa’s phonetic poetry in the early 20th century. Txt-Me-1st tries to adopt a similar approach which also highlights the “emptiness” and “nonsense” found in the writing process in the computer age. By implementing the influence of the ambient environment and the interactions between digital text projection and the old typewriter’s mechanical arms, visitors are witnessing how their message is decomposed and recomposed as if they are visiting an underground factory producing pirate DVDs.

Txt-Me-1st can be seen as an experience generator rather than just a computational machine that writes on its own. It tries to emphasize the playful experience between writing (sending text message) and reading (receiving spam message). It is also experimenting a new way of audience participation by turning the museum into a remote factory where audience can take part in the work in anywhere provided they have a mobile phone with them.

While everyone is struggling to deal with spam messages every day, we can now “order” our own.

Simply text me first…

Txt-Me-1st是對「垃圾訊息」的衍生過程的一種回應。當我們每天都拼命地防止它們進入我們的電子郵箱時, 我們都忽略了這些「垃圾訊息」當中其實隱藏著許多極富創意的地方。明顯例子就是那些為了不想被防垃圾電郵程式(Anti-spam program)過濾而演變出來的書寫形式。如刻意使用錯別字,以及把句子栽減以至剩下關鍵字等,令原文變成完全隨機但同時又可以大致理解的文字符號。


“of pure silver. This degradation, therefore, in the value of the money rents lesbian first time stories labour to learn, than in a month’s industry, at an ordinary and obvious hsnrihvjdrj”

Txt-Me-1st 其中一個創作靈感很大程度來自這種新的「書寫方法」。跟早期一些和文字有關的新媒體藝術作品一樣,它們都同時表現了電腦書寫中那種「隨機性」與「虛空感」,同時,也與二十世紀初達達主義時期語音詩 (phonetic poetry) 那充滿玩味及對文字反叛的本質不謀而合。 Text-Me-1st正正就是希望藉此路向去重塑電腦自動書寫那種「隨機性」與「無意義」。透過引入現場的環境因素與及投射文字與機械零件的互動,觀眾將目睹原有訊息如何被拆解及重組。感覺就如親身參觀盗版光碟的地下製作工場一樣,將不為人知的製作程序公諸於世。

Txt-Me-1st 著重觀眾經驗的產生多於對電腦作為自動書寫工具的研究。它重點在於發掘「寫作」(發送短訊)與「閱讀」(接收短訊)之間一段有趣的經驗與可能性。同時,它也嘗試去發展一種新的觀眾參與形式。透過手機,觀眾將可隨時隨地參與作品與及改變博物館的現場環境。在傳送與接收之間,帶給觀眾無限的想像。

當所有人都忙於安裝防垃圾電郵程式時 ,我們現在可以主動參與創作一個個人的「垃圾訊息」。



Weekend talk series contributed by the WMC team



Computer as a Creative Tool 創意電腦

Conducted in Cantonese 粵語主講

Mr Mike Wong 王健明先生
Assistant Professor, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong 香港城市大學創意媒體學院助理教授



Data Visualization and Art 資料視算與藝術創作

Conducted in Cantonese 粵語主講

Mr Bryan Chung 鍾緯正先生
Lecturer, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong 香港城市大學創意媒體學院講師



Developing Media Art Literacy 建構媒体藝術素養

Conducted in Cantonese 粵語主講

Dr Linda Lai 黎肖嫻博士
Assistant Professor, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong 香港城市大學創意媒體學院助理教授



Media Art + Education 媒體藝術 + 教育

Conducted in English 英語主講

Dr Hector Rodriguez 羅海德博士
Associate Professor, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong 香港城市大學創意媒體學院副教授