Codichte – Experiments with Cognitive Systems

This book is a documentation of a seminar of the same name, given at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne in Winter 2020/21 by Georg Trogemann, Christian Heck and Mattis Kuhn.


Through technology we expand our cognitive abilities. We try to inscribe our experiences, abilities and actions into machine cognitive systems. But as soon as we use them, they inscribe themselves into our experiences and thus into us. In the seminar we experiment with non-human cognition and all-too-human writing techniques, with possibility spaces of texts from the Library of Babel and algorithmic decision making through neural thought vectors, and with language hacking, machine poetry and poetry machines.

The seminar focuses on characters, words and texts. Artificial Intelligences can do nothing else, they are nothing else. The material they process are symbols and texts. They themselves are also nothing but symbols and texts. Sense and meaning, conclusions and consequences, all that follows from the text, i.e. their embedding in the world, belongs to the context from this perspective.

Both modernist poetry and modern neuroscience discovered the synaptic space at the beginning of the 20th century. The syntax of our formal technical languages (Artificial Neural Networks) thus entered a new millennium hand in hand with early poetic language techniques and experiments.

Although Artificial Neural Networks are not the focus of our discussion in this seminar, we consider them – albeit in a larger context – as a cognitive system among other cognitive systems. Since we will go deeper into the syntactic and semantic spaces of these cognitive systems in individual sessions, programming skills are helpful but not required to participate in the seminar.

Introductory presentation

Here you can find a pdf of our introductory presentation.