Toronto artist Amos Latteier has just launched N8R TXT, a public art project where you can send in an SMS with your location, anywhere in Ontario, and receive back a site specific haiku “expressing nature” at that spot based on the local geography, season, weather, time of day, plants, and animals. Here’s how it works:
Text your location to 416-662-3408. Locations should include the name of your city, and must be in Ontario, for example: “100 queen w, toronto”, “hamilton”, “laurier & elgin, ottawa”.
“Summer evening, bloor & landsdowne, toronto”
slumpd in the subwy
ladybird beetls nappng
“Summer morning, lake simcoe”
these yello pebbles
a bug hat, or bug jacket
beside a dirt road
“Summer night, Toronto”
bneath the lamplite
hardly nything open
small town Toronto
It’s free (only costs whatever your mobile plan charges to send a text) and is quite lovely. Latteier often investigates the intersection of nature and technology — check out his project Call of the Wild, “Cell phone audio tours of downtown Portland wildlife” — and you also may remember his Pigeon Condo project back in 2006 at Yonge and the Gardiner. With N8R TXT it’s remarkable how sweet the machine generated haiku poems can be. Latteier writes:
Historically haikus are themed around season and place. They also traditionally employ a technique called “cutting” which is basically juxtaposition. I tried to write my poem generating program to follow those techniques. Of course it also uses juxtaposition by bringing together “high” and “low” language and by connecting consumer electronics with “nature”.
You can follow recent activity on the site itself via RSS feed, or subscribe to the Twitter feed. Even when it’s not your personal haiku, it gives a neat snapshot of artful moments around the city as people go about their business. Put the number in your phone’s contact list and text away wherever you are.