Machine-Driven Text Remixes

Authored by: Alessandro Ludovico

The Routledge Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities

Print publication date:  February  2021
Online publication date:  February  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367361426
eBook ISBN: 9780429355875
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, the process of remixing is analyzed through the evolution of machine-driven text transformation approaches. Starting from semi-random early techniques for the composition of poetic or experimental literature, the process of associating and composing preestablished pieces of text, sourced from analog and then digital repositories, will be investigated. A continuity emerges from the combinatorial experiments realized by the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (OuLiPo) group in the 1960s to the later software that has advanced remix possibilities up to the contemporary attempts to establish an almost autonomous “automatic publisher.” The increased sophistication of the algorithms and the growth of available sources have affected the plausibility of the produced texts, including a technical analysis of style, laying the foundation for its simulation. More recent tests, using unusual or different technologies to produce texts, will be included. In the essay, I will analyze the remixes of text's evolving structure since the early experiments in the 1960s, the role of machines in effectively emulating a writer's style and their essential support to generate credible fakes, particularly deepfakes, discussing a series of relevant issues for Digital Humanities.

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