November 15, 2015:

Think of the actions you perform when constructing a mosaic.

Your tiles are in a bowl. You need a red one: you fish around, find something suitable, add it to the work you’re assembling. Now you need a green one, and so on. The tiles are your raw materials. The final work may be representational, or abstract: geometrical or etc.

Now think of this labor as analogous to building poems or other narratives from existing blocks of text. Instead of a bowl of tiles you have a collection of fragments, whether sentences or phrases or other blocks. You pull these fragments from your collection and assemble them appropriately.

How are fragments chosen? Burroughs' cut-ups are randomized. Source matter is fragments cut at random from a randomly-chosen text. The final work is randomized again, as fragments are chosen without protocol from the pile. There's no reason though for randomization to be mandatory. You can select a source text for its particular properties, say, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy which ends Ulysses. You can select your source fragments algorithmically or according to your specific aesthetic requirements: perhaps phrases which sound good to you when spoken aloud, perhaps some other criterion. You can assemble them with judgement: I like this piece in this place. Like mosaic the final work may be representational, or abstract. It can have semantic content, or be pure music. Randomization is probably the best-known approach but it's merely a subset of a larger possibility.

These pieces explore this concept, using multiple strategies for selection of source texts and assembly of the final work. Some of them do in fact source from Molly’s soliloquy, while others use Ulysses as a whole. Some draw from a collection of phrases chosen for their sound, or their imagery, and so on. None are random, in Burroughs’ sense. Most of the final works are pure music.

To my ear the results are akin but not identical to certain of the AI-generated dreams in TriadCity. TC dreams are another subset of the larger universe of possibility.

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