new human sounds 

[ephemera from the performances of U+1f440]

U+1f440 is an electronic music and performance art project started by Angela Washko and Jesse Stiles in 2017. Stiles and Washko compose and perform experimental music and visuals working with code and live electronics. Using existing politically charged texts as source material, each song produced by U+1f440 is the result of a generative process in which machine learning algorithms are trained on texts which are evocative of cultural moments of conflict and the tension surrounding social change. The algorithms are employed to produce poetic and dream-like computer-generated lyrics combined with experimental electronic pop music. 

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Still from backing live visuals for A-Side: Machine Learning Elegy for Christine Margaret Blasey Ford

For the Gate Gallery Residency, we wanted to share the first four songs from our album/performance/tour-in-progress, alongside the videos which serve as backing visuals for our live performances. These videos reveal the machine learning poetry we generate on existing texts by highlighting the lyrics of each song. These videos are not meant to be standalone music videos, but rather projected visuals shown in tandem with our live performance that create context for the origin of the source material for the songs.

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U+1f440 live performance still with context for how to understand the following videos.

Alpha Game

In 2014, U+1f440 member Angela Washko interviewed manosphere leader, pick-up artist and “Bang” book series author Roosh V. This feminist interrogation provoked a lengthy thread on the pick-up artist’s manosphere forum. U+1f440 trained a text-generating neural network on these posts to produce the lyrics for this song, Alpha Game.

A-SIDE: Machine Learning Elegy for Christine Margaret Blasey Ford from Her Written Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee

We trained text-generating neural networks on the transcript from Christine Blasey Ford’s testimonial letter outlining her experiences of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The neural networks created their own new text, pulling from the patterns and vernacular of the original source material – and we redacted the resulting text into a poem and later manipulated it even more to produce this experimental song. This is the A-Side to B-Side: Machine Learning Hate Poem for Fucking Scumbag Piece-of-Shit Brett Kavanaugh from His Verbal Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

B-Side: Machine Learning Hate Poem for Fucking Scumbag Piece-of-Shit Brett Kavanaugh from His Verbal Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Following a similar lyric writing process described above in A-Side, we trained text-generating neural networks on the transcript from Brett Kavanaugh's verbal opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation process and focused primarily on an attempt to discredit the traumatizing experience of assault that Christine Blasey Ford bravely shared prior to his speech. The neural networks produced new texts that we redacted and formed into the lyrics to this song. This is the B-Side to A-Side: Machine Learning Elegy for Christine Margaret Blasey Ford from Her Written Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Who Do You Dress For?

Who Do You Dress For? is a song U+1f440 originally made for a live multimedia dance installation and performance by Scott Andrew and Jesse Factor called I Am A Haunted House, focused on the life and mythology surrounding queer film icon Joan Crawford. The visuals for the U+1f440 live performance of this song include one of the videos produced for that performance paired with the generative lyrics created by Stiles and Washko after training text-generating neural networks on Joan Crawford's book My Way of Life, an etiquette and advice guide by the complex star.