for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

for the sleepers in that quiet earth. Photo credit: Nick Montfort.
for the sleepers in that quiet earth.
 / deep learning generative artbook
 / 2019
 

for the sleepers in that quiet earth. is a computer-generated artbook resulting from the increasingly coherent results of a machine learning process trained on the novel Wuthering Heights.

Description

Each book is a unique snapshot of the learning process of a deep recurrent neural network trained on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. As the system skims over the text and repeatedly encounters its syntactical and stylistic materialities, this machine learning algorithm generates new, unforeseen content that reveals its current “understanding” of the text. The book thus unrolls the learning loop of an adaptive machine in its attempt at imitating Brontë’s style.

The deep recurrent neural network used in this work tries to learn a complex mathematical model of the probabilistic distribution of sequences of characters. The term “recurrent” refers to the fact that some of the neurons inside the network feed back into the network’s inputs, allowing it to keep the past characters read in its memory. As it is trained, it gets a sense of how certain characters follow one another, from groups of 2-3 letters that correspond to morphemes and on to syllables, words, and eventually whole sentences. Because it is trained at the character level, the system can generate non-English words. None of the words, syntactic structures, or sentences found in the book were in any way explicitly encoded in the system by the artist who developed it: Emily Brontë’s novel is, effectively, the only thing at all that this deep recurrent neural network knows about language, or indeed the world.

The work is released as a limited series of 31 unique artbooks. Each book is signed by the author.

The book was designed by the editor. When “chapter” followed by some letters occurs as its own line, this line was typeset as a chapter heading on a new page. No changes were made to the output.

Get the Book

You can acquire the book at the cost of 120 USD through the publisher Bad Quarto or by contacting the author. Cost does not include applicable taxes and shipping fees.

References

Audry, Sofian. “Unrolling the Learning Curve: Aesthetics of Adaptive Behaviors with Deep Recurrent Nets for Text Generation”, International Symposium on Computational Media Art (ISCMA) 2019, Hong Kong, 2019.

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights, Project Gutenberg, 1996/1847.

Credits

Author: Sofian Audry
Editor: Nick Montfort
Publisher: Bad Quarto
Printed at the MIT Press Bookstore thanks to John Jenkins.