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In There, Behind the Door (2024)

Monique Tschofen

In There, Behind the Door offers a deformance (Samuels and McGann) of a selection of poems from one section of Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons (1914) using sound-, text-, image-, and video-generating AI. The deformances are not illustrations of Stein's text, but rather demonstrations of the types of thought experimentation that Stein practiced and theorized.

Each still or moving image, and each sound work in this exhibition generated by a Large Language Model is "plunging to deep recesses of textual and artifactual forms" (Samuels and McGann 35-36). Experiments using text prompts taken from Stein's poems activate these digital archives of cultural memory in ways that expose the operations of Stein's syntax; puns and imagery; as well as her understanding of media, materiality, and style. They are designed to tease out "what we did not know we knew," and lead "into imaginations of what we had not known at all" (Samuels and McGann 48). Users are invited to
"read backwards" from the deformance to the source text, seeing the deformances as re/"[i]nterpretive moments" that "unfold in fractal patterns of continuities and discontinuities" (Samuels and McGann 48).

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