The Oracle from Selphie

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“The Oracle from Selphie”, the newest version of The Poetry Machine/Ink After Print more or less emerges from these considerations, and brings them together in a new form. It was developed by the authors in collaboration with Jakob Fredslund and CAVI, Aarhus University. “The Oracle from Selphie” is both research-through-design and at the same an exemplar of data-realism. It includes an intro-text which introduces its concept in marketing-style language, hinting that The Oracle uses machine learning systems to generate accurate horoscopes. An important detail here is that The Oracle is in no way based on any actual machine learning system. Instead, The Oracle harnesses a certain machine learning rhetoric; if and when the reader recognizes a hint of machine learning in the style of the horoscopes, the machine learning rhetoric is actualized and the work becomes data-realist.

Our approach has been to re-design the established interface of The Poetry Machine to make it re-embody some of the considerations originally intended for it – i.e., the questions of creativity and authorship; who is writing whom when we interact with the computer; what do we gather about a system when being met by a user unfriendly interface, etc - while at the same time incorporating new and peripheric perspectives such as the question of data-driven software and machine learning and, in particular, how we conceptualize such data-driven software and machine learning in the meeting with interfaces that hint at an artificially intelligent system.

Description adapted from: Erslev, Malthe Stavning and Søren Pold. “Data-Realism: Reading and Writing Datafied Text”, Electronic Book Review, May 3, 2020,

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Malthe Stavning...