For the final project, a culmination of the semester, I choose to incorporate both the bot lesson and the Intervention lesson. I made a twitter bot incorporating the work of Søren Kierkegaard and Elliott Smith called the @TheEitherOrBot, a bot that spat out tweets that followed the pattern of “Either/Or: (quote from either Kierkegaard or Smith).” The connection between the two, of course, is each respective artists’ Either/Or. Kierkegaard’s Either/Or was a 1800s philosophical tract while Smith’s was a 1990s pop/rock/alternative record, of which the latter’s content was based off the former.
Getting the Elliott Smith lyrics from http://www.sweetadeline.net, a Smith fan’s ultimate resource, I plugged each track off Either/Or into TextEdit and followed by selecting an equal number of lines from Kierkegaard’s Either/Or to follow. After randomizing them via the BulkGenGen tool, I plugged them into an application producing a twitter bot: @TheEitherOrBot.
The second part of my project, incorporating intervention, involved me going around the city and writing various tweets from @TheEitherOrBot in chalk around the city (I got off at the W 4th St. subway station and walked around from there, finding fitting places for intervention). I documented this by taking picture of each intervention and posting them to an accompanying Instagram account, @theeitherorbot.
I really enjoyed this project, and I feel like it properly encapsulates a lot of what I got out of the course. Incorporating multiple lessons learned from the course into one succinct whole was something I felt might be an issue, but I believe I pulled it off. Taking text and skewing it in different forms was a major theme throughout the semester, and while I left the text itself unchanged, I decontextualized and re-appropriated it in a way that makes the text interesting in an entirely different way. Kierkegaard is a brilliant writer, and putting his text in this format brings out a poetic nature of his writing that may go unnoticed otherwise. Something that makes his writing so poetic at times is the hard-hitting, one-off lines that can be found throughout his work, making him similar to Elliott Smith, a writer Kierkegaard had profound effect on (enough to name an album after a work of his). Seeing each of their one-liners decontextualized on a twitter feed is both slightly mystifying and potentially inspiring. There is mystery to the origin of some individual tweets (“Either/Or: against god we are always in the wrong”could surely be the work of either Kierkegaard or Smith, though in this case it is Kierkegaard), and this makes the bot consistently enticing. Making an Instagram commemorating the public intervention, or more accurately advertisement, of the tweets puts on display this interesting use of classic text, yet further decontextualizing it. All said and done, I think the joint twitter and Instagram accounts accounting this new way of viewing otherwise stagnant text is something worthwhile, and a justifiable way to conclude my time in this course. Thank you!