1941 | 1942 | 1943

The Death of the Authors

The Death of the Authors is a series of generative narratives based on work by authors in the public domain. The project was initiated by Constant members Femke Snelting and An Mertens in 2013, when they started remixing works of authors who had just entered the public domain.

This series will be continued each year in January, when Constant celebrates Public Domain Day in collaboration with CRIDS and The Royal Library of Belgium. By creating a new derivative work every year, Constant hopes to inspire you to make public works electronically available and rediscover them.

Public Domain Day

Every year on New Year's Day, due to the expiration of copyright protection terms on works produced by authors who died seven decades earlier, thousands of works enter the public domain - that is, their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone, but it rather becomes a common treasure, available for anyone to freely use for any purpose.

Read more on publicdomainday.org

The Death of the Authors, 1943 edition

A Bot Opera

This chatbot opera features Fats Waller, Nikola Tesla, Beatrix Potter and Sergei Rachmaninov; four artists who died in 1943, and whose works entered the public domain on 1st January 2014. These authors are reanimated in the form of a "chatbot": a small software program that automatically intervenes in a chat conversation pretending to be human. The bots enter in dialogue with each other and with visitors who join them in their online room: http://botopera.activearchives.org. The bots produce images, sound and text.

The botopera premiered on Public Domain Day 2015 on 7th February in Cinema Nova, Brussels, Belgium, in presence of three plotters who interpreted and plotted the activity of the bots on large posters.
Watch the video of the performance: http://video.constantvzw.org/PublicDomainDay2015/NEWNOVA.webm.

From 13th March till 19th April the botopera was shown in the vitrine of Constant, where the activity of the bots is interpreted and plotted on a weekly poster, by the beautiful Roland, a gigantic printer from the 80s. On Thursday 9th April 2015 at 18h the posters were auctioned. Benefits were donated to the new magazine for independant journalism Médor.
Watch the pictures: http://gallery3.constantvzw.org/index.php/Constant-V-Botopera.

Botopera will be performed again in Wiels on Friday 11th September as the opening act of the International Underground Poetry Festival. The installation is on show in Wiels till Sunday 13th September.

With : BotsWaller, NICKola tesla, Beatrix Botter, Rachmanibot & plotter Roland.

A work by Michael Murtaugh, Anne Laforet, Gijs De Heij, Antonio Roberts, An Mertens.

Botopera uses Python, nltk, mplayer, Pure Data, imagemagick and git.

Clone or download all sources here: https://gitlab.com/death-of-the-authors/1943/.

The Death of the Authors, 1942 edition

Public Domain Cinema

An unlikely encounter between the work of four women who only share the year in which they died, 1942. Their work came into the public domain in 2013. Every time you launch the script, a different cinematic experience is created, combining the music of Blanche Selva (Cloches dans la Brume), photographs by Tina Modotti, plus randomly selected phrases from novels by Neel Doff (Jours de Famine et de Détresse) and Violet Hunt (A Hard Woman).

The film premiered on Public Domain Day 2014 on 25th January in Cinema Nova, Brussels, Belgium.

Generate Public Domain Cinema yourself

You'll need to install Python, nltk, mplayer, feh, imagemagick and (optional) git.

Clone or download all sources here: https://gitorious.org/death-of-the-authors/1942/. Instructions are enclosed in the repository.

The Death of the Authors, 1941 edition

The Novel

The Death of the Authors, 1941 is a generative novel made with Python and nltk, based on texts by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Rabindranath Tagore, Elizabeth Von Arnim, Sherwood Anderson and Henri Bergson, some of the authors we welcomed on 1-1-12.

Every time you launch the script, a different novel is created. As a hommage to the life and demise of authors whose bodies merged with earth in 1941, each version takes you through four seasons that are composed of thematically selected sentences from their liberated texts.

The selection of the texts used for this publication is very much influenced by the availability of works online. Famous authors are easy to find, English works and translations are often available as free e-books, thanks to an initiative such as The Gutenberg Project.

The generative novel was presented on Public Domain Day 2013 on 9th March in Bibliothèque Royale, Brussels, Belgium.

A set of selected remixes is available for free download or can be ordered as print-on-demand:

One-click remix

Generate your unique version of The Death of the Authors, 1941 in one-click:

The Couplets

As a seasonal variation on the generative novel, we created a generative poem. A script selects random sentences from the works of Rabindranath Tagore and couples them phrase by phrase to the works of Virginia Woolf, with the help of the Natural Language Toolkit:

They had many quaint jokes, which afforded them much amusement.
Mrs. Hilbery looked from one to the other in bewilderment.

To surrender one's pride in devotion is woman's only salvation.
You were laughing because you thought I'd changed the conversation?

In fact any talk at all from him is resented.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday--there are only three days more, she counted.

Bipradas came to me for advice, and told me everything.
Well, said Katharine, I don't see that you've proved anything.

Do not change or edit the header without written permission.
She urged poor Miss Vinrace to come on the expedition.

The couplets were performed during FREE?! on 29th November 2013 in Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Generate a Novel or Couplet yourself

You'll need to install Python, nltk, ConText and (optional) git.

Clone or download all sources here: https://gitorious.org/death-of-the-authors/1941/. Instructions are enclosed in the repository.

1941 | 1942