SYNTAX (mark 1)

SYNTAX: A speculative 1-day workshop, looking to explore how poet/writers and coder/artists can bring their skills together to make new experimental work.


Coders and Poets Unite!

This initiative was a collaboration between Re-Dock and Literary Arts Collective Mercy, prompted by conversations between John O’Shea and Nathan Jones about the potential for overlaps and interesting discourse between coders and poets if some of the barriers for collaboration were identified and broken down.


What we did:

Nathan set up this simple tumblr blog to archive some of the thinking:

And then we hosted an open, one-off workshop at Manchester’s MadLab, which was divided into two parts:

1. a morning of short presentations featuring examples of interesting interactions between language and dynamic elements found on line.

2. an afternoon which was very open ended, but the emphasis was on coders and creative writers finding some kind of interesting idea and exploring this with tools which were immediately available.

Below are some of the resources which emerged, the schedule for the day and the original call out we sent to contributors.

Beyond all of this, we developed here a model for collaborative experimentation across our organisations and networks which, we hope, will lead to new work being made.

Some tools and resources:

Our favorite, Liverpool derived, wiki-based, information parsing tool:

And an alternative:

Yahoo Pipes:

Tutorial – Learn How to Build a Pipe in Just a Few Minutes on Yahoo:
British National Corpus –


9.30am – arrivals, say hello, teas, coffees…
10.00am – START – John and Nathan will introduce the day.
10.30am – Tom Schofield – will present his Recursion example
11am – 11:20am (short break)
11.20am – 3 x 15 min presentations:

12.05pm – LUNCH – we will be ordering some pizzas for everyone at lunchtime (feel free to bring any other things and we can put these in the fridge in the morning.)
1pm: Return – short discussion
1.15pm – 5pm – groups, playtime, build some prototypes – see where it goes!


Hello writers/coders/artists/countrymen and women

we would like for you to bring your skills and imagination to contribute to a speculative 1-day workshop called SYNTAX, looking to explore how poet/writers and coder/artists can bring their skills together to make new experimental work. Hopefully participants in this workshop will be able to contribute to a suite of new tools showing how innovations in conceptual writing practice can be brought together with new approaches in artistic programming.

We’re inviting you to respond to a brief related to these explorations, and to come and contribute to the session.
Several other coder/artists will be bringing their solutions to the day, and we will use these presentations as a starting point for a day of play and making at Madlab.

The brief:
“A dynamic piece of writing which changes as you experience it, in response to data/linguistic information in the real world or online”

If you would like to bring a solution to this brief along to the workshop, we have a budget to pay you to develop something, up to £100. Otherwise, if you’d just like to attend and maybe bring some examples for how this kind of web-text work has been implemented elsewhere, then we will pay your expenses.

The day will run as follows:
10am – 12pm: Presenting solutions
Lunch (made by Nathan!)
1pm – 5pm: Developing new work / Play-time

This project is a partnership between Mercy and Re-Dock.
Any questions, ask us.

Kind regards,

Nathan Jones and John O’Shea.