“Trade became to a greater and greater extent cheating. And how does that relate to the behavioral focus of my software?”

Excerpt Pretext, 2015

The ‘Pretext’ software rewrites existing and self written texts (database) from the perspective of the machine in the form of numbered and dated pages, printed each 50 minutes. The installation of ‘Pretext’ is site specific, but generally the generated pages are projected. Underneath or in the vicinity of the projection, a printer is installed. This printer prints out the ‘pretexts’ every 50 minutes that eventually will be bundled into one unique book after the show. Previous ‘Pretext’ books are also shown together with a graphical robot drawing interpretation of one or more generated pages from previuos exhibitions.

The ‘Pretext’ software is a text-crawler that tries to find meaning in a large database of texts. This database can be adjusted to fit the context of the exhibition. ‘Pretext’ systematically ‘browses’ this database to index found links between words. For instance the word ‘table’ can be linked to ‘wood’ or ‘tree’. After linking these words, short sentences are created. Thirdly links between these short sentences are generated. The software then generates new, longer sentences using the similarities it encountered between related sentences in the past 50 minutes. This formulating is done with a liguistic algorithm. Thus ‘Pretext’ tries to find new meaning in the database as source material for a new text. The resulting machine texts balance between decisiveness and accuracy. The output can sometimes appear to be sentences of somebody who is misunderstood and is forced to explain himself in a language that is not his own. The machine’s primary language being binary after all, the software struggles with the chaotic swirls and possible misconceptions of (human) language and linguistics.

After each exhibition the ‘Pretexts’ are bundled into a thick book. The enormous amount of pages of such a book make it almost impossible to read in one lifetime. Giving the books an aura of seriousness about them that they actually do not deserve, because they’re created by mechanisms that do not understand their proclaimed meaning.

‘Pretext’ can perform in various languages such as amongst others English, Dutch, French and German. At the end of each exhibition MER Paper Kunsthalle binds these pages in a unique book.

‘Pretext’ printed at White Circle during the exhibition ‘Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit.‘  Previously ‘Pretext’ was included in the Lodgers #1 MER. Paper Kunsthalle exhibition, M HKA, Antwerp. Upcoming printing at Jetztkultur, Mannheim, Germany.