Recently I've been experimenting with a few different AI tools for text generation. Nothing too complex at the moment while I start to get a sense of what's possible (although I do plan to train something on my own data set soon). Sometimes I generated gibberish, sometimes the seeds of what could be an interesting story to pick up and run with. And sometimes, a strangely beautiful metaphor...

I'm not really one for writing love poetry, but I thought I'd see what a romantic collaboration with AI might churn out. I wrote a random line of text into a neural network and then asked it to complete the text. I then chose some of the AI-generated lines (or line segments) that made the most sense and reconstructed them into something new, adding a word here and there for flow. It's a little contrived, but as an early attempt I think it works quite well. It also took quite a dark turn – which might say something for the initial text I input into the machine. (Come to think of it, most of my experimental collaborations turned out quite dark... hmmm!). There were a few more lines about taking off clothes and dying alone, but it all got a bit melodramatic. Ha!

I then input the poem into an AI text-to-image generator to create the hero image to illustrate the poem...

I loved you

I loved you, my love

Lay down with you in the tender dark,

but I

I did not remain.

You brushed my hair away from my lips

or perhaps my shoulders.

Beneath my skin some neon glow,

a surfeit of chlorophyll that mesmerises you.

You thought you were alone.

You, the most self-possessed of souls.

You, who have abandoned me.

I wanted you to be alone.

I should add, the AI didn't know it was writing poetry. I simply asked it to spit out a certain number of words based on an initial text prompt I fed to it. I don't know if it was from the words I wrote, or the syntax or just pure luck, but the AI responded in quite a lyrical way, which lent itself well to something more poetic in structure.

If you're interested, here's the raw text the AI offered, before I restructured it and added a few words here and there: "I loved you, how could you possibly love me? my love you in the tender dark: I lay down with you and did not remain: I took off my clothes, in the soft white light you brushed my hair away from my lips, or perhaps from my shoulders: a surfeit of chlorophyll, some neon glow I'd read about, that mesmerizes you, too. You thought you were alone. I wanted you to be alone. You have abandoned me. I must die alone. Except for the most self-possessed of souls, I have never been able to tell" (and then it just stops mid-sentence as it hits the word limit).


Text generator: InferKit, talk to transformer

Text to image generator: AttnGAN

Continuing the theme of found poetry, here's a concoction pulled from the fever dream of my Facebook posts over the last few years...

Are you superstitious? (Asking for a friend)

Last night I dreamt I had to drown my cat

He flew me up into the sky like Superman

No pasaran!

Another blast from the past

My brain is whirring

It’s bizarre, and quite frightening

I’m not sure there’s a word for it

Remember this?

My last outing of the year

They welcomed me in and gave me a tour

(David Lynch’s work has hung on those walls!

Absorb his wholesome wonder for the world

Steel fork, mudguard mounts)

I died

Nervous and excited in equal measure

I’m hoping to pull some threads together

Bob, crumpets and lard

These are a tiny handful

We must all do more

Join us?

(And please keep a look out for Bettie!)

Since there hasn't been much chance for going out this year, here's a poem I found nestled among the materials in my home studio... Each line is a fragment from a label, sticker or instructions booklet of some supply or other, assembled into a reflection on relationships, domesticity and turbulence.


Two surfaces joined at an apex

stretch, relax

allow bond to set –

a five-year guarantee

Paint on walls,

make them glow bright,

their white pearl permanence

may cause dizziness

But fragile peaks tend to break,

the artist’s choice

a choking hazard;

the ancient art of floating

Your razor edge always ready,

turn it clockwise

make your mark,

each design unique as a fingerprint

Then move to fresh air

away from sunlight,

water-based relief

a starter set for binding and repairing.