exquisite_code : Python Code and Collective Novel

exquisite_code project


“exquisite_code” is a collaborative writing and coding project by heterogeneous groups of writers.  In each micro session, writers generated prompts and response, and code selected and mangled these text.  Writers continued the micro session again and again during their work, and chunks were piled up to generate “life-novel”.

The project was inspired by conversation between a writer and a programmer.

The writer, after a powerful joint, asked the programmer what it felt like to program. The programmer began to describe the process in language suited to the writer’s experience of writing and the writer began to understand that programming was like writing in many ways and that perhaps the intersection between the two was more creatively aligned than previously assumed.

exquisite_code History : http://exquisite-code.com/?action=page&url=history

The project was experimented during 2009 and 2010.

Collective novel session in London

In 2010, seven international writers got together and worked eight hours a day for five days in London.  They created text-prompt, text chunks and edit-software written in Python.  A line printer spit out a stream of the live-novel.  At the end of each session, edit-software selected one line randomly, and the writers wrote next text chunks in six minutes.  Selected chunks were saved to the ‘positive text dump’ , while the rest of them were sent to a ‘waste dump’.  All materials were on public display during whole sessions  via projectors, monitors and output coming from the printer.


Marino, M. C. 2013. Reading exquisite_code: Critical Code Studies of Literature. In : Hayles, N. K. and Pressman,J. (ed.) . 2013. Comparative Textual Media Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era. Minnesota : University of Minnesota Press.


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