30 September, 2022
Kathryn Gledhill-Tucker is Running Dog’s poet in residence for August and September 2022.
Each month, a poet produces new work, which is distributed via Running Dog’s monthly newsletter—Stray. If you haven’t already, sign up to our newsletter.
This is a generative poem built with Tracery, a tool created by Dr Kate Compton. These kinds of tools have introduced a new relationship between creators and machines, one where machines become our collaborators and co-conspirators.
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In this residency, I wanted to explore the ways we share intimacy using machines that were not designed for such applications. We profess love, grief, or sincerity through a text that is rendered down to 1s and 0s. We use the same medium to share innocuous messages, but sometimes memes can be a language of love, too. Think about the friend that says “I love you” by leaving 70 TikToks in your inbox every day.
I am fascinated by the generational shifts of email sign offs and the ways Gen Z have changed our approach to work, lampooning these traditions. There are funny juxtapositions between sharing a deep, heartfelt message and signing off with an ironic phrase. A phrase as simple and common as “I hope this email finds you well” has taken on new feelings; during periods of civil unrest, a global pandemic, a time in our lives where things are very much not at all “well” but we’re still expected to perform at our jobs, platitudes like this feel hollow.
Like general instructions for operating, this piece looks back at the historical relationship of modern computing with weaving and code. I think a lot about the abstraction of modern code and how that has affected our relationship with computers. In the 80s, you could look at an 8-bit computer and theoretically figure out how it worked. The jump from BASIC or other languages of the time to hexadecimal and machine code was not too far; at a glance, you could see how a command translated to a circuit. You could also see the roots of weaving in punch cards and trace that history back to the Jacquard loom. Now, it’s far less easy. So, what does it mean for the technology we build today that we cannot easily see where we have come from? What does it mean to render the past invisible?
This poem is interactive. For the best experience, we recommend viewing this work on a desktop.