[ISEA2008] Artist Statement: Naoko Tosa – Cultural Computing: Hitch Haiku, ZENetic Computer, I.plot

Artist Statement

Venue: National Museum of Singapore

Different cultures have special rules and common elements that humans identify as behavior or grammar. We developed a computer model to illustrate this. We also developed Hitch Haiku, a system to express and to interactively experience cultural understanding using cultural computing. ZENetic applies some aspects of Buddhist philosophy as a model in computational science. Our motivation derives from the more than 2,000 years of innovative Buddhist tradition. Methods of interaction between Zen master and pupil, developed to sharpen the understanding of human consciousness, provide a rich base for interactive modeling — a field still unexplored in the Western scientific tradition. Hitch Haiku system interactively aids users in creating haiku, poems with imagery-maximizing mechanisms, the shortest in the world. First, “kire-ji”, words that indicate a transition in the poem, and particles are added to the word/phrase input by the user to make a five- or seven-syllable phrase. Second, phrases including terminology related to the user’s input are located in a phrase database holding examples of haiku from the Japanese literary four-season calendar, ensuring the cultural validity of the haiku. These phrases are then “hitched” together to generate a haiku. Although this system periodically generates flawed haiku, the ability to generate haiku that support the expansion of users’ cultural understanding has been confirmed through assessment experimentation. The i.plot system discovers the hidden connections between words. It determines that a connection between words exists if two words are found in the same thought-form or make up a stimulus-response pair in the Edinburgh Associative Thesaurus. Then it finds several connections between the two words by tracing a large set of possible paths between them, so that the paths traverse several two-word connections. If the chaos engine is in an appropriate state, a preference may be added so that longer paths are displayed, or so that the paths are forced to connect through a more distantly connected word. The user may further expand the connections of any word of interest.

  • Naoko Tosa is an Japanese media artist and researcher. She received a Ph.D. in engineering for Art and Technology research from the University of Tokyo. She is professor at Kyoto University from 2005. She was Fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) 2002- 2004. She was a researcher at the ATR (Advanced Technology Research Labs) Media Integration & Communication Labs. 1995-2001. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art New York, the New York Metropolitan Art Museum, SIGGRAPH, ARS ELECTRONICA, the Long Beach Museum, and other locations worldwide. Her works are also part of the collections at the Japan Foundation, the American Film Association, the Japan Film Culture Center, The National Museum of Art, Osaka and the Toyama Prefecture Museum of Modern Art. In 1996, she received the best paper award from the IEEE International Conference on Multimedia.  In 1997, the L’Oreal Grand Prix for research combining art and science awarded her first prize. In 2000, she received prizes from the Interactive Art section in ARS Electronica, as well as a special grant from the agency for cultural affairs in Japan. She received a commission research contract from France Telecom R & D 2003-2005.