Individual Work
The Listeners

The Listeners is a computational literary work based on the programming of a skill for Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. This work is at once an installation and a linguistic performance that took place between the visitors of the exhibition it was presented at and Alexa. The Listeners first installation took place at Bell Gallery on 23 November 2015. This work is engaged in exploring the possibilities of a literary listening, creating a new kind of attention to programmed language. It may be understood as an example of a computationally engaged aural literature, or what Cayley calls aurature (Cayley, “Aurature”, 2015). It is also a work that subverts the instrumentality of human-computer interfaces. With The Listeners, Alexa acquired a poetic voice that is not intended to provide information, but to call on a reflection on different dimensions of language: as a medium for expression, demonstrating how aural electronic generative language can be read as literary, and as meta-data, highlighting how the political economy of digital media is the material ground from which contemporary modes of control are shaped.