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Negative Poetry Human Algorithm is an online performance bridging collective thinking, theatre and complexity science. A computer made of people tackles the complex task of transforming a poem into its opposite, thereby generating a potentially infinite combinatorial polyphony of possibilities.

Event details of Negative Poetry: Human Algorithm (online)
Date 20 December 2020
Time 20:00
Organised by Orion Maxted

Negative Poetry is an exhibition
Negative Poetry is a work in progress
Negative Poetry is algorithmic
Negative Poetry is not negative
Negative Poetry is approaching zero
Negative Poetry is being in uncertainty
Negative Poetry is mysterious
Negative Poetry is revealing the self 
Negative Poetry is collective 
Negative Poetry is writing
Negative Poetry is performative
Negative poetry is rhythm

Negative Poetry centers around the entanglement of matter and meaning by focusing on the intriguing and paradoxical concept of zero - that which is simultaneously both something and nothing. The work is an experiment in language that focuses on the mathematical concept of approaching zero and the concept of cancellation, where -n and n result in 0. In calculus, we can approach zero from either a positive or a negative direction, and the resulting limit of each equation is infinity (∞ and -∞). The question is - can the same be applied to natural language?

Negative Poetry Human Algorithm is a collaboration between Orion Maxted, Katarina Petrović and The Interactions group. The Interactions group is a transdisciplinary ‘thought band’ of roughly 20 artists, scientists and philosophers who together explore the weird and wonderful folds in the dimensions of all possible collective thought through experiments in collective intelligence, complexity science, cybernetics and algorithmic theatre.

Negative Poetry Human Algorithm collective performance is presented as part of the exhibition Negative Poetry.

About the exhibition
Negative Poetry is an online research exhibition by Katarina Petrović exploring the possibility of approaching zero through language. The work consists of two experimental setups - the Negative Poetry Machine Algorithm, a custom made software that translates the Bible into its negative using the database of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Negative Poetry Human Algorithm, a live online performance made of nine people and developed in collaboration between Katarina Petrović, Orion Maxted and The Interactions group. 

The exhibition is virtually hosted by the Museum of Science and Technology in Belgrade and organised within the Mangelos Award exhibition programme. Katarina was the winner of the 2019 Mangelos Award (Young Visual Artists Award in Serbia).

The Interactions is a group of roughly 20 artists, scientists and philosophers by the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Amsterdam, and was initiated through the artist-fellowship of Orion Maxted.
The Interactors performing Negative Poetry Human Algorithm are: 

  • Orion Maxted, theatre maker/artscientist, Institute for Advanced Study, UvA;
  • Katarina Petrović, artscientist, Centre Leo Apostel, VUB
  • Renske Vroomans, evolutionary biologist, Institute for Advanced Study, UvA
  • Enrico Sandro Colizzi, evolutionary biologist, Leiden University and Origins Center
  • Izabelė Jonušaitė, philosopher, Institute for Advanced Study, UvA
  • Sára Iványi, poet
  • Thomas Dudkiewicz, theatre maker
  • Marie Groothof, theatre maker
  • Cadell Last, philosopher, Centre Leo Apostle, VUB

Programming and technical support by Keez Duyves (PIPSlab) and Jur de Vries.