Autography

Creative Work
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2021
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Autography is an interactive artwork, in the form of a software application, that automatically
generates evolving 3D graphic characters that resemble human hand-writing. The intention is to
create a form of automatic writing made by a machine (instead of by a human). Automatic writing
is commonly understood to be a form of unconscious expression, where a human in a fugue or
similar state writes automatically. The writing often resembles hand-writing but tends to look
more like scribble. The perceived value of automatic writing is dependent on the apprehension
that human beings possess a subconscious (or unconscious) that can be interpreted through the
act of automatic writing. The technique was popular amongst early 20thC aficionados of
theosophy and early psychology. Surrealist artists such as Andre Masson used the technique to
develop semi-abstract artworks, whilst later authors and artists, such as Henri Michaux and Cy
Twombly, employed the technique to develop highly sophisticated paintings and 'writings' that
questioned both the authenticity of the artist's mark-making and the semiotic potential of writing.
Jackson Pollock's late paintings can also be interpreted within this framework. This work explores
the posthumanist potential for machines to create automatic writing, raising the question of
whether a machine might have an unconscious, whilst at the same time critiquing the idea that
humans may. Autography functions as an interactive 3D application. Once downloaded you can
navigate its 3D space, within which the automatic writing evolves, using your mouse/trackpad and
keyboard. You can use your mouse/trackpad to pan around the 3D space. Holding the 'shift' key
on your keyboard, whilst holding down your mouse-button and moving the mouse up/down,
allows you to zoom in and out of the 3D scene. You can mix these mouse and keyboard actions to
gain more control of the navigation and explore the evolving writing, from a distance or close-up.
Passing through the textual plane of the writing reveals a "dark mode". Pressing the key 'b' on
your keyboard returns the scene's camera to its original location and orientation, restoring the
original view of the scene.

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screenshot of program
screenshot of program
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Cecilie Klingenberg