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Two Witty Uncles

The Lit & Phil

Computers and “the arts”

The use of computers in generating art works has a fascinating history going back to the 1950s and as computers have become more and more powerful the possibilities have increased enormously and almost unimaginably.

A quite early (and delightfully daft) example of computer generation comes from 1961 when an IBM computer 7090 “sang” Daisy Daisy in an American accent :

Means other than just inspiration have been used for hundreds of years to create music - Guido of Arezzo invented a kind of system in the 10th century and Mozart devised a way of using dice. Composer David Bruce has an interesting and entertaining video on the use of computers and music from Guido to the present day:

In the visual arts, the speed of computing aided the creation of fractal generating software producing works such as this : and this: and with a bit of online searching you’ll find many free programs available if you’d like to create your own.

In 2015 Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev created a set of rules (an algorithm) to process images that have something of the hallucinatory about them and you can use your own images for processing and was the program used to create the image at the top of this post:

The computer has been used for “literature” too. With this website you can generate all manner of output from haiku to limericks to sonnets to short stories.

Here is an example of a story generated from the site:

Two Witty Uncles Singing to the Beat

A Short Story for our Times

Fred Marsden looked at the damp teapot in his hands and felt surprised.

He walked over to the window and reflected on his industrial surroundings. He had always hated damp Mytholmroyd  with its agreeable, amused arches. It was a place that encouraged his tendency to feel surprised.

Then he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Phil Randall. Phil was an energetic monster with chubby toes and beautiful ankles.

Fred gulped. He glanced at his own reflection. He was a cowardly, modest, cocoa drinker with charming toes and fragile ankles. His friends saw him as an agreeable, amused academic. Once, he had even jumped into a river and saved a soft baby flamingo.

But not even a cowardly person who had once jumped into a river and saved a soft baby flamingo, was prepared for what Phil had in store today.

The wind blew like smiling tortoises, making Fred anxious.

As Fred stepped outside and Phil came closer, he could see the keen smile on his face.

"Look Fred," growled Phil, with a greedy glare that reminded Fred of energetic snakes. "I hate you and I want a pencil. You owe me 3863 euros."

Fred looked back, even more anxious and still fingering the damp teapot. "Phil, I admire your 

eyebrows," he replied.

They looked at each other with calm feelings, like two freshly-squeezed, flipping foxes shouting at a very selfish birthday party, which had piano music playing in the background and two witty uncles singing to the beat.

Fred regarded Phil's chubby toes and beautiful ankles. "I don't have the funds ..." he lied.

Phil glared. "Do you want me to shove that damp teapot where the sun don't shine?"

Fred promptly remembered his cowardly and modest values. "Actually, I do have the funds," he admitted. He reached into his pockets. "Here's what I owe you."

Phil looked unstable, his wallet blushing like a mammoth, mangled map.

Then Phil came inside for a nice mug of cocoa.


About the author

Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is a composer and arranger, is a member of the Board of the Lit & Phil and chair of the Marketing Committee.

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