Think Tank

Diagram of the system.
Think Tank installed at CoCA in Seattle.
Seb Chevrel and Trimpin troubleshooting.
The MIDI controlled solenoid array mounted on the typewriter.
The chicken random MIDI generator in action.
Sample typewriter output.


The Think Tank is an art installation created by kinetic sculptor Trimpin and programmer Seb Chevrel which prints random President Bush speeches on a typewriter.

The Think Tank consists of a system of 24 bobbing chicken toys that trigger random pulses in the form of MIDI signals. These signals are routed to solenoid plungers attached to the keys of an IBM Selectric typewriter. Custom software translates these signals into readable output from the typewriter.

To achieve this, every word from all of President George W. Bush's public radio addresses has been entered into a database. This source text is analyzed and the spatial relationships between individual words are referenced, producing a simplistic, yet highly effective "grammar" that will govern the typewriter's output.

The initial chicken signal will cause the software to choose one random word from the source text. At the next signal, the software will choose another random word, but one that appeared adjacent to the previous word in the source text. The process repeats, creating convincing, readable text most of the time, and completely frightening outbursts occasionally.





Text generation is identical to the real project, except computer random numbers are used instead of the chicken, as the source of entropy.

Programmer's Notes