Imaginative Poetry. Inspired by the Second Name of Collected Space.

First, some terminology:

Sammelraum is a life-form (allegedly – maybe it is an art bot). The German word means Staging Area in the military sense, Storage Space, or Collection Space … so perhaps collected ‘pure’ space as such, or space for collections.

Second Name is a series of unworldly images created by that life-form. Random people’s surnames on a random doorbell panel triggered it: Each image is an overlay of the first 15 portraits images spit out by Google Image Search-ing for these names. These composite faces have been printed on gessoed canvas – prepared in a painstaking process in several steps.

These eerie versions of grand Dutch masters’ paintings beg for being complemented by


This is the result:


[Browse the gallery, I wait.]




… a booklet hand-made by Sammelraum. It is a hardware-only (not download-able) artisanal product that transcends its virtual origins. You would have to feel it – as Sammelraum has coined the term haptic variance – which seems to matches a technical term in biology accidentally. Images are printed on textile banner, and poems on paper. People who touch the book the first time, enter a Zen-like higher state of mind by gently rubbing the textile pages between thumb and index finger for minutes. (I speak from experience!)

How to let the internet’s subconsciousness talk about these images? I have used the rigorous version of my Flarf technique:

  • Create a screenshot of each image.
  • Feed it into Google Image Search again.
  • Pick one of the ‘similar’ images shown on the first page of results at random.
  • Visit the page the picked image is part of.
  • Pick a random phrase from this page. This becomes the title.
  • Advance from page to page only via links, and select one phrase from each page.
  • No page must be omitted, deletion or reshuffling of phrases is not allowed.
  • The poems end when the poet goes mad, is utterly exhausted, or has reached the End of the Internet in terms of a page without outgoing links.

I make up the following new rule now: Whenever this poetry is re-used it has to be transformed. So I wanted to turn it into images again in this post. I found random images in this way:

  • Enter the title of the poem as a search term on
  • Pick an image shown in the first batch of search results at random.

These are the first 5 of 20 poems in total.


whom she looked up to as a far more competent artist

art for art’s sake
The modern age has in most cases failed
Brought death into the world, and all our woe

Looking towards entrance from the inside
transmit the work

you agree that you are happy
come closer
we would love to see your work

Image: All the Year Round


I don’t know what to think myself

defying gravity
numbers and symbols
we do not impose quality standards

impassioned audience
We will be in touch soon.
Working in tandem

there should be zero animation

Image: Wikimania Motivations Talk



Religious art

We’ll Supply the Rest.
Subjects are back!
The Heart of Creativity Beats

wacky European counterparts
Perfect for tiny projects
tell us what you think!

Image: Smoked herring sold in Italy


Lightbulb moment

why it is the way it is

to nurture and develop
anecdotes or anything else
Did you know that

you may not have permission
It doesn’t matter if you forget the lyrics
Choose how you’re feeling

opt out of appearing here

Image: The Guardian Antiterrorism Journal Spring 2007
Voice from the future – maybe part of this art project – says: The link is broken!


None can be used for any purpose whatsoever

No Hard Feelings
we have moved to a new location
We hope to find you
Need Directions

developing absurd ideas
try removing it

Need to get real pictures
based on the following things
a list of numbers
Not at all helpful

Image: Z H Wikimedia Signpost


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Given the rules you’re using here it almost seems like you’re on to a decent AI algorithm for creativity. Maybe you should write a script and see what happens when you run it a zillion times :-) That sort of network traffic should give the spooks from various nations something to think about!

    1. elkement says:

      I had already found an Android app that creates a similar kind of poetry from WLAN signals or whatever…. from the digital subconsciousness of the environment as the developers called it!
      Another thing I’d automate is ‘translational Google poetry’ – running the initial poem through 10 different languages. Results are best if you pick some unusual languages!

  2. Reading the conversation between you and Bert, I agree that the satire merges with the process in a way that kind of subverts satire. (If that can make any sense at all.) It becomes a satire of creative process simply by imitating it “to the letter,” so to speak. This is to say, that the material for creative work comes from the world of the poet, but what if that world is set up in virtual space? Then, the process of turning down streets or moving through a room becomes one of connecting links. The virtual has always been considered less–a copy, an artifact–but this has been the debate surrounding art for centuries. So, in a sense, the virtual poetry here raises the stakes yet again… and I love the pressure this places on the entire production! Indeed, “The poems end when the poet goes mad” seems wildly insightful.

    1. elkement says:

      Thank! “Subverting satire” – this is awesome! I am subverting my own seemingly subverted satire :-)
      Yes, I think the constraints are important.

      On re-reading the poems I noticed the following: Sometimes I found web pages that seemed to be rich in poetry-worthy phrases, and it was difficult to pick one (for example long-winded scholarly articles about art or biographies on Wikipedia). I figured such poems would be way ‘better’ than the ones that forced me to choose a phrase from just a few sentences or from things like a database of criminal records. I can still remember which poems were ‘hard’ and which ones were ‘easy’ – but the ‘quality’ (whatever that means, ‘creativity score’…) is actually the same…. surprisingly. So maybe I just tried harder to squeeze the poetry out of the horrible or dull web pages.

      1. or, maybe the poetry comes from something that is concrete. I did a workshop last week with an accomplished Canadian poet, and he reminded us that the best writing domes from “straight forward” prose. The words that connect to the body, the senses, are the ones that give us impact. This is poetic language… which kind of goes back to the discussion we have going on right now back on my blog: Dawkins and “middle world” living.

  3. bert0001 says:

    Poetry comes from the depths of our brain-mind. Internet poetry, by association, as you show here, might be the way AI expresses itself as vulnerable and fleeting as a any being …

    1. elkement says:

      I never thought of these experiments in terms of art – I considered it more of a satirical parody. But it really depends on the definition of art perhaps – and anyway: Doing these 20 poems in a row, within some hours, propelled my mind into a very special state :-)

      1. bert0001 says:

        after having visited Sammelraum, I didn’t see the satire any more. in this case, you are selecting the next sentence, while the link provides the set of ideas — being the selector, either consciously or subconsciously you are contributing a lot in the process.

        1. elkement says:

          I noticed that all my ‘poetry’ has the same flavor – no matter if the source is spam, search terms, or random internet sites. So I guess the choice of snippets does say something about me – or my subconscious mind :-)

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.