From Avant-garde to Algorithm: Automated Creativity in Music and Literature

Interdisciplinary research project of the Institute of English and American Studies (Eckart Voigts), Institute of German Studies (Jan Röhnert), Institute for Music and its Mediation (Dietmar Elflein).

Online Conference in October

From October 7–10th 2020, the project group will host the "Automation and Creativity: The Practice, Aesthetics and Reception of the Digital in Music and Literature" online conference. Click here to access the conference hub page with info about registration and scheduling.

Automated aesthetic practices are generating new manifestations of artistic and political everyday actions in a society saturated by media. In recent years, projects of machine-learning creativity have increasingly appeared in various social and cultural contexts, including literature (TalkToTransformer, Botnik, The Truelist, Code Poetry), film (Sunspring, Lexalytics) and music (Arca/Bronze AI, Holly Herndon's "Proto", Actress/Young Paint, Google Magenta, Sony Flow Machines, Amper Music). The interdisciplinary research project "From Avant-Garde to Algorithm: Automated Creativity in Literature and Music" deals with forms and effects of automated creativity that complement, superimpose and transform established practices, ethics and concepts. We ask what social, cultural and aesthetic changes the use of digital technology, algorithms and deep learning applications in music and literature bring about.

The project is located in the tradition of a theory of media progression, which sees the change in the cultural treasure trove of forms, perception and transmission as being directly correlated with the technical recording and reproduction media of word, image and knowledge. We bundle and discuss existing approaches to capture a changing machine aesthetic and trace historical and contemporary developments of "dispositifs of creativity" (Reckwitz). In the course of the project, literary and musical phenomena will be recorded and analysed and placed in their environments of genesis and reception (network, scene). We adopt a cultural-anthropological and discourse-analytical focus in relation to authorship as a product, but also to paratextual and praxeological situatedness. We work with actor and network concepts in order to bring together the technical as well as aesthetic and social questions of such human-machine art action.

Photo credit: NMWK/TU Braunschweig