studio for digital crafts

A drawing machine that illustrates a never-ending story by translating words of text into patent drawings.

Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus

“Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus” is a drawing machine illustrating a never-ending story by the use of patent drawings.

The machine translates words of a text (e.g. a novel) into a stream of patent drawings. Eight million patents — linked by over 22 million references — form the vocabulary. By using references to earlier patents, it is possible to find paths between the patents that have been found for word-combinations in the story. They form a kind of subtext. New visual connections and narrative layers emerge through the interweaving of the story with the depiction of technical developments.

The apparatus takes a combination of words in the story and searches for a patent document, whose text contains those words. Then it extracts the main drawing from the patent document and draws it. Advancing in the story, it finds the next patent document. Between the found patent and the previously drawn patent, the patents that connect the two are drawn in between. This process repeats until the story has been used up and generates an endless stream of patent drawings.

The first two editions of the “Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus” have used the database of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The third edition, which has recently been installed at the German Patent Office in Munich, uses the whole backlog of patents applied for in Germany.

In collaboration with Julius von Bismarck.

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