week 9: computospirit

This week I am again continuing to build off of my computo- bash scripts. In step with automatic writing and our discussion on spirits this project treats the computer as a medium. When the script starts the computer looks for all of the PDFs in the computer’s file system. PDF could ostensibly be any other type of file but I think the PDF is one of the more telling files for finding out the spirit of the computer. Once it finds all the PDFs it copies all of the pdf names and their absolute paths into another file. The slashes and dots are all removed so that only the words of the path names remain. Finally the words in the file are randomly shuffled with the GNU shuf command and typed out letter by letter to the terminal.

Sometimes the writing is incomprehensible. Other times it writes things like “american culture” and “writing metaphor” and “latour traditions 2 Alternative”. This is a kind of reflection on how automatic writing is created. While automatic writing has the potential to create new meaning or even get in touch with a kind of spirit I think it is also very rooted in the physical and the sub/un conscious. The files of the computer act as a kind of concious from which the computer, while writing words from a randomized file, is pulling from.

The code for computospirit is here.

Below are a few examples:

I let this one run for 20 minutes!