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Random Artefacts
Experimental poetry

Random Artefacts is inspired by the antipoetry of Nicanor Parra. He described the antipoetry process of making “as easy as taking a diary, cutting up a large number of words, putting them in a bag, shaking it, and taking them out one by one by joining them with a conector”. Taking his process as an inspiration, I developed a software that takes a curated number of my Instagram advertising algorithm and I combine them randomly with Parras Artefacts. In Parra’s work, an Artefact is a poetic piece of one or two sentences, summarised and loaded to the maximum, usually accompanied with a visual object. Within this idea in mind, I seek to explore visual and text random associations and find new semantics, as an updated form of Parras methodology of creation.

“Democracy and Dictatorship” Artefact

What is antipoetry?

Antipoetry is a type of groundbreaking poetry, created and mainly developed by the Chilean writer Nicanor Parra (1914-2018). In this way, Parra created a new way of making straight forward and colloquial poetry, provided with popular sayings that opposed the prevailing in his country in the mid-twentieth century (for instance, Pablo Neruda).

“Everything is poetry but Poetry” – Nicanor Parra

The Artefacts [Artefactos]

In the Artefacts, the poetic saying and the text itself are reduced to a unit in the composition: the fragment. A fragment used as a verbal device that when the reader deciphers it, explodes in his consciousness, illuminating multiple zones of the real, attracting different planes of content. These poems are forms of language drawn from the everyday world, for example, student slang phrases, turns of trivial speech, journalistic, and advertising language. In the proposal of the Artifacts, the poet’s job is to be a collector of these units, to detach them from their original referent, in order to create another meaning. In this sense, Parra’s artefact emphasizes the interest in the spoken word, in the oral residue, in a manner similar to Chilean popular poetry.

The Software and Installation Set Up

The process of creating the installation consisted first of all in collecting phrases used by Parra in his Artefacts or in his visual artwork. Around 100 phrases were collected and translated from into English. In parallel, about 200 images from different advertisements were collected from instagram. This process was not random, but rather there was a curatorial process in order to select the most interesting and/or absurd, funny images.

The software works as follows:

  • From the image archive, the software selects an image randomly. This selection changes after three seconds, and after one second of searching, a new image appears on the screen.
  • At the same time, the software searches for one of Parra’s phrases and randomly matches the image pulled from Instagram’s algorithm, along with Parra’s phrase, or the “Artefact”.
  • The result is a combination of image and words that create new meanings in the mind of the observer.
“Obras Públicas” exhibition 2006 – Centro de Arte Palacio La Moneda
“Random Artefacts” Hochschultage 2022 – University of the Arts Bremen

The Processing software runs on a Raspberry Pi, which is connected to a monitor. The installation is in turn inspired by the exhibition “Obras Públicas” (Public Works/Constructions) made by Parra at the Centro de Arte Palacio La Moneda in 2006 (see image above). This configuration also seeks to exacerbate the absurdity of staging an ordinary object as an office monitor.

In order to watch an online running version of the software, please check the P5js link:


For half a century
Poetry was the paradise
Of the solemn fool.

Until I came along
And built my roller coaster.

Go up, if you feel like it.
It’s not my fault if you come down
Bleeding from your nose and mouth.

Roller coaster – Nicanor Parra’s antipoem
Hoschultage 2022 University of the Arts Bremen
Thanks to
Julian Henspenheide for his conceptual and technical support.