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ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature

The ChessBard Plays

Aaron Tucker (Ryerson University, Canada)

End(s) of Electronic Literature Festival Exhibition
Wednesday, August 5 • 17:30 - 19:00 (University of Bergen Arts Library)

In short, the ChessBard inputs the algebraic notation for a chess game in .PGN format (digital file format for archived chess games) and outputs a poem. The poems are based on 12 source poems I wrote, 6 poems for the white pieces, 6 poems for the black pieces: there is a 64 word poem for each colour’s pawns, knights, rooks, bishop, queen and king. When a piece lands on a square it triggers a word from the source poems and the translator compiles them together and outputs a poem. For more, see The site itself includes a translator capable of inputting any chess game in .pgn format as well as a playable version that combines the translator with a chess-playing AI.

In my performance I play a game versus the ChessBard on and project it and the subsequent poems that are translated in real-time. I imagine the performance being similar to demonstrations of The Turk, a chess-playing automaton from the 17th and 18th centuries: I would play at physical board with a chess clock, sitting down and ideally on a raised stage, and move actual pieces; I would then enter my moves (and see the ChessBard’s in response) in a monitor-CPU next to me that would be projected behind me. The performance would last as long as it took me to finish the game, though I would set a time limit with the chess clock. 


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