Update Project - Sound Poem

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Hugo Ball - Sound Poetry

    During WW1, an international art movement known as Dada attracted the attention of many artists. The Dadaists responded to the horrors of WW1 through artistic expression via a diversity of genres. One of the most intriguing were the Dadaist Sound Poems which contained no words but instead a series of syllables and vocal sounds. These poems looked to deconstruct the words that make up conventional languages and recombine their sounds into original poetry. The destruction of words was a metaphor for the destruction of civility and every-day-living resulting from WW1. Additionally, the lack of language (which in the early 20th century usually tied a person to their nationality) removed any sense of national identity from the poetry. This lack of national identity was especially important in early 20th century Europe where countries were struggling to maintain peaceful relations.

The Update

    The sound poems' deconstruction of words into syllables in order to reject war, national identity, and conventional language remains compelling and relevant today. As an update to the Dadaist sound poem, I wrote a program to automatically generate sound poems by algorithmically deconstructing of a collection of word into syllables and recombining them into poetry spoken by a standard text-to-speech application. In particular, the collection of words being deconstructed came from the contents of Wikipedia's article about "War" to allude to the theme of war's destruction inherent in the original sound poems. The series of poems was generated from the same program, but using the article in a different language as each source set of words. The poems are presented on a website with a map of regions which when hovered over by the mouse cause the poem with the language of that region to begin playing. Currently the site contains poems constructed from English, German, Polish, Italian, French, and Slovanian.

    This website symbolizes war's destruction and the importance of unity found across national/cultural boundaries. As visitors enter the website and explore it with their mouse, they will find the poetry for each region. The poetry, inherently meaningless and arbitrary to all listeners, actually unifies listeners who, regardless of language spoken, will all understand the same meaning from every poem on the website. The website is intentionally simple and without instruction to draw focus to the poetry and the lack of national identity and recognizable language. The destruction of what each region says about "War" in their respective Wikipedia articles conveys the universal sense of destruction felt by all nations or regions involved in war.

Additional Notes

The source code for generating the code may be found on GitHub. The text-to-speech conversion was performed by AT&T Natural Voice.

Enter The Site

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