T H E   P O E M

We are characters. May Text be with us.

THE POEM is a conceptual sequel to the TEOPEMA project, taking further artistic exploration of language through its manifestation in poetry and mathematics, here viewed as essential media defining the universum - from perceptible to conceivable, and onwards to unimaginable.

TEOPEMA contemplated mathematical language as a core structural substance of the material world, rendering physical and ontological interconnections abstract. Its sequel, THE POEM, aims in the opposite direction and cuts down to the visceral aspects of human lingua - a vast nebula of tones, shades and intuitions, seemingly amorphous yet adhering to the stringent system of symbolic rules.

THE POEM approaches text at micro and macro levels, as both a sequence of characters and as a container of spirit, summoning its powers for an emotional narrative existing on its own. Not quite unlike the wave-particle dualism in quantum physics, in THE POEM, rational and irrational, mental and sensual unite at the level of highest abstraction, purposely escaping the events described in the text, the actual storytelling.

For this observation, THE POEM embraces "The Poe-et's Nightmare" by H.P.Lovecraft, a poetic message from Lovecraft to Edgar Poe, written in 1916. The selection is not accidental. As Venkatesh Rao points out in his Disturbed Realities essay, largely dedicated to Lovecraft and Ballard, it is imperative to comprehend the collective moods and historic consciousness shifts in the deeply disturbed eras, one of which we're currently living through. Such a visioner optics can make novel scientific or mathematical knowledge, alongside with other reality expansions, accessible to the less sensitive souls as new emotional range and psychological territories.

The strategy of THE POEM operates with multiple AI-based methods, set up to transform the textual profusion into surreal aesthetics of a graphic antique manuscript, while preserving the profound images and symbols of the superconscious found in the original text. The result is far from being a mere illustration of the verse, as it is inherently cryptic by the nature of the process, in which the image does not attempt to interpret the text. Instead, the algorithm decodes the poem's innate elusive symbols and projects them onto its own universe of visual imagery.

Eventually, what we observe is a dialogue between the written unseen and the unspeakable evident.

As the poesy of the verse is already highly compressed and concentrated on its own, the artistic focus was on emphasising complexity and subtlety of the medium. Math is sometimes viewed as the highest form of Poetry - this was the path outlined earlier by TEOPEMA, and followed to the very end. Beyond that end, Language may become a framework to describe and model worlds; in equal measure, Math may be used as a framework to construct languages. In essence, Poesy embraces the two, being in the very heart of both, and yet not attached to any specific scheme utilised by Language or Math. THE POEM is both a rational algorithmic entity and a system of obscure symbols, constructed in image and sound - and, yet, it is neither of the two..


THE POEM encompasses three parts. Each of the parts pursues the process and the outlined concept, yet each addresses a different aesthetics of perception - from the fragmented virtual vortex of blockchain tokens, through a seated cinematic experience in a dark room, to the archaic librarian authenticity of a printed object.


An exhibition video with sound, 42 min long, given below.


Minting at Mirage Gallery
Price: 0.12 ETH

THE POEM set consists of 304 unique pieces, one per a verse line. Each piece is a 23-second long looped video with sound.
The pieces have been created using various methods; corresponding traits (distributed randomly over the set) are given below.

Preset :: specific technical approach, used for generation. A,B,C,D represent different visual settings for the image interpolation method, while M is a totally different animation technique with an accent on the motion.

A 27 9%
B 40 13%
C 73 24%
D 103 34%
M 61 20%

Color :: dominant color palette of the piece (assigned manually, so may be ambiguous).

color 38 13%
tonal 177 58%
mono 56 18%
sepia 33 11%

Look :: visual style of the piece (assigned manually, so may be ambiguous).
Last two styles (graphic and gravur) relate to the M (motion) technique (see above).

base 102 34%
special 27 9%
complex 40 13%
filmic 23 8%
fresco 20 7%
fantasy 7 2%
misty 24 8%
graphic 43 14%
gravur 18 6%

Seed :: seed value for the piece generation. Does not have any practical meaning outside of metaphysics.

1890 77 25%
1916 127 42%
1969 4 1%
2023 96 32%

Homo :: indicates if there are human faces or figures in the piece.
There are 166 such pieces, which constitute 55% of the whole amount.

Scape :: indicates if there are landscapes or natural views in the piece.
There are 40 such pieces, which constitute 13% of the whole amount.

Paged :: indicates if the visual layout is split on pages like a book in the piece (at least partially).
There are 82 such pieces, which constitute 27% of the whole amount.


A limited edition printed book with selected images, accompanied by the soundtrack on CD.


Vadim Epstein :: Digital artist, director, educator, coder, VJ; former IT consultant and casual theoretical physicist. Making multimedia art since 1996, combining generative methods with figurative imagery and algo narratives, with the current focus on AI/ML.

Ivan Pavlov :: Sound artist and musician; former acoustic engineer and data scientist. Releasing computer music as COH since 1998, with primary interest in exploration of sound qualities affecting listener's perception of both the music itself and the surrounding reality.