It’s a personal philosophy of mine that art, especially poetry, can be found in everything around us – as long as we have the right lenses on, an imaginative, rose-colored pair, I think there is literary value in even the most natural, unintentional things.
With that being said, the Five Card Flickr activity speaks to that idea, I think. We were allowed to choose five random images and create a poetic connection between all of them. The process of thinking carefully about the images and building a story is special, and requires a thoughtful imagination and also a touch of magic. What started as a bunch of disjointed images with no relationship is soon transformed into an interconnected narrative – a story full of magic from randomly generated pictures.
We look for and find the poetry in just about anything. I enjoyed creating my Five Card Flickr story, because while the images had no real connection at first, I could choose an aesthetic – I was collecting my materials that I needed to create my storytelling magic. I enjoyed it, since it presented itself like a puzzle, which required me to give a lot of consideration to weaving these stories together.
However, when it came to making a story out of someone else’s narrative elements, the puzzle got more difficult. I wanted to create my own connection between the images without being influenced by the original author’s – additionally, I didn’t find that a lot of the already made stories fit immediately into my head as a certain “aesthetic.” It definitely took a lot more time and consideration to try to make and someone else’s story work.
Generating literary magic out of random pictures might’ve been easier to see as “art,” though, compared to the concept of twitterbots. I personally love bots – especially shitpost generators, which supposed generate nonsense and consequently make some pretty scary, prophetic social statements in doing so. I decided to explore the activist twitterbots, because while I love poetry, I think these specific bots unconsciously make pretty powerful statements.
I found the bots @lady_products and @man_products pretty hilarious, but also pretty poignant. There was a certain formulaic art to their tweets that fit a purposeful aesthetic for both accounts. @lady_products generated tweets with lowercase, calmer words that had more feminine, poetic language, like “fragrant” “blush,” “perfume,” “eyeliner,” and of course, “vodka.” Meanwhile, @man_products did the exact opposite – the bot was loud, capitalized, and advertised in an extremely macho way. It chose language such as “MEAT,” “ODOR,” “TESTOSTERONE,” “PROTEIN,” and “___ FOR MEN.” While both accounts made statements of how advertisements have a specific formula to cater toward each gender, I think there was something poetic in both, more notably the @lady_products bot. While these accounts were created to generate specific, gendered language, each tweet becomes an artistic statement, which makes it a pretty amazing piece of generative magic.
And of course, the big concept of the week – netprov – is also another example of generative magic. However, it is a less randomized form than the other two; instead, after learning more from Mark Marino and Rob Wittig during their webinar, it’s clear that it has an obviously improvisational nature to it. A group of people come together under guises to create stories off the top of their heads, in alternate universes and narratives that are straight from the participant’s imagination. There is no script, there is no storyline that the players have to follow. Everything is in the moment, and the players go with the natural flow of the progressing storyline, or can even decide to shift it however way they want. They are responsible for generating the next shift, the next word, the next emotional rollercoaster that the netprov will experience and explore, and everyone is in on the magical ride.
The magic of storytelling is generated everywhere. From images juxtaposed to twitterbots, there is a literary narrative waiting. We just have to search the crevices of our imagination to find and manifest that magic and share it with the world.