About Instabilities 2

Instabilities 2 (2009) by Hazel Smith and Roger Dean subjects a discontinuous text to various kinds of processing; the screen is divided into three sections which counterpoint each other. The top section consists of a video made by Hazel Smith comprising twelve short texts. The middle section consists of the same material processed in the program Jitter by Roger Dean, and involves various forms of overlaying, erasing and stretching of the words. In a third section of the screen the same texts—together with others which do not appear in the top movie—are processed in real-time by Roger Dean by means of a Text Transformation Toolkit (TTT) written in Python. The processing substitutes words and letters so that new text emerges, together with a spoken realization of some parts of the text, new and old. The pre-written fragments circle around the idea of social, historical, and psychological instabilities, but during the processing new instabilities—syntactical, semantic, and phonemic—also arise. In addition, computer-synthesised voices add an aural dimension to textual change.

Instabilities 2 arises out of the Verbal Interactivity Project (VIP), originated by Roger Dean and Hazel Smith. VIP is dedicated to computerized text generation and is devised and created in Python. It permits both live coding and manipulation of a graphic interface. The processing algorithms for Instabilities 2 were written in the Textual Transformation Toolkit, devised and created in Python by David Worrall and Roger Dean, with additional input from Michael Bylstra and Jon Drummond. The toolkit uses several other substantial research and programming endeavours, such as the Natural Language Toolkit (initiated at the University of Melbourne), though the objective is not necessarily to replicate natural language. The purpose of the toolkit—which is under continuous development—is to generate text, especially in real-time interactive and performance contexts. The soundtrack for this version is a ‘comprovisation’ devised by Roger Dean in which the acoustic improvisation (performed by Sandy Evans, Phil Slater and Roger Dean) is gradually over-run by the electroacoustic sound (performed by Greg White) but then re-emerges. It is taken from a live performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in December 2009.