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POEMPORTRAITS

May 2019 | By Es Devlin, Ross Goodwin, IYOIYO, Google Arts & Culture

Artist & Designer, Es Devlin invites you to take part in a collective poem - woven at the intersection of AI and human collaboration.

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POEMPORTRAITS is an experimental, collective artwork, woven at the intersection of AI and human creativity - combining poetry, design and machine learning - conceived by artist and designer Es Devlin in collaboration with Google Arts  & Culture Lab and creative technologist Ross Goodwin. 

The idea for POEMPORTRAITS  originated in a conversation Es Devlin had with Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, in 2017 and began as a physical installation at the Serpentine's Summer Party. 

"We wanted to find a way to fuse the voices of the 1,500 guests who were at the Serpentine Summer Party. Inspired by the artist Felix Gonzalez Torres (whose work I first saw at the Serpentine nearly 20 years ago), we wanted everyone leaving to be able to leave gallery taking their own piece of the collective work in the form of a personal portrait."  

 Now, everyone is invited to take part for the first time.

You are invited to donate a single word of your choice. 
Your word will be instantly incorporated into an original two line poem generated by an algorithm trained on over 25 million words of 19th century poetry. 
The lines are combined to form an ever-evolving collective poem. 
Each word you donate to the collective poem will generate a unique POEMPORTRAIT of your face illuminated by your original line of poetry. 

Goodwin trained the algorithm to learn to write poems by reading over 25 million words written by 19th century poets. It works a bit like predictive text: it doesn’t copy or rework existing phrases, but uses its training material to build a complex statistical model to generate original phrases emulating the style of what it has read. 

The colored woven backgrounds on this site are inspired by Es Devlin's long standing friendship and collaboration with the weaver and artist Ptolemy Mann.

POEMPORTRAITS is not only at the cutting edge of poetry and machine learning collaboration, it is also one of the first in-browser selfie filters that responds to the shape of your face and for the poem generation we have an automatically scaling cluster of GPUs in Google Cloud that are responding to any number of users almost instantaneously.This is one of the first times this technique has been used in a creative context. Because we're pushing the limits of your browser to do accurate pose estimation and rendering, overlaying the poem generated by your word and the algorithm in real time it may not work on some mobile devices.

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