I love Twitter bots. I really do, I think they're so cool, and I know you might be wondering why I want to show you an automated social media account, but Twitter bots in the past few years have elevated past spam, advertising, and their other practical uses and straight into the stratosphere of the arts world. It's been an interesting ride, and it's worth checking out.
Wikipedia defines a "Twitterbot" "...as a program used to produce automated posts on the Twitter microblogging service, or to automatically follow Twitter users". Usually Twitter Bots are just for spam or advertisement, but artists have recently taken on this new and interesting medium to create compositions and ongoing instillation through the code-generated profiles, and they're worth checking out. Trust me.
These bots can post a wide variety of exciting artistic content nowadays, anything from poetry to digital art can be made with bots. Poetry is derived from pulling random sentence fragments, words, and phrases from online texts and recombining them into new and interesting prose.
The actual, visual art created by things like pixel sorting bots and quilt bots are quite impressive as well, and are made via many different methods, like pixel sorting existing images from the web into new abstract compositions. Bots exist that do nothing but zoom in on random image areas to create abstractions, some bots sort "aesthetic" photos by color into pleasing combinations and sets, others still endlessly tweet their art or pose at each other, one bot to another, ceaselessly and into oblivion.
Remarkably, Some of these bots can even learn to improve, and do what they do better by replicating techniques used in their most popular tweets (that receive the most retweets and favorites from human users). Twitter bots are some of the forefront to prove that robots in this ever-expanding world of technology can and do create art when provided with a formula written by the creative code-generators behind them.
Here are some of my favorites of these bots:
Usually the bots that post text and not images are named after the source material they pull from, such that the "Horse eBooks" Twitter bot pulls all of the raw text material that it recombines into new prose, and sometimes poetry, from any Google book in the Online database that is about horses. Sometimes, though, like in the case of Direlog Ebooks, I'm not sure exactly what the source material is, or if it's simply all at random. I will admit that often these bots tweet meaningless nonsense, but even then it's usually pretty funny to read, and its worth it for the times where they accidentally create moving poetry, or even funny jokes:
As an artist, this account was frightening to me on the first loo. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It creates digital art and patterns by drawing shapes, and then filling them with color after:
I make art, and so does this computer-born bot. This account seems to have a better probability of producing good content, too. Hm.3.
Think-Piece bot makes farcical "think piece" titles. A "think piece" is defined by Merriam Webster as "an article in a newspaper, magazine, or journal presenting personal opinions, analysis, or discussion, rather than bare facts". Think pieces are published in newspapers, magazines, and even on here, on the Odyssey. This article itself is like a think piece, because I am writing it solely because I think bots are cool, and I think you should too.
This account is exactly what it sounds like. This bot creates farcical headlines to non-existent news articles and stories about the population of Snake People who live among us.
The other humorous thing about this account is it seems to presume that the reader's intent is to impress a high-ranking snake person:
I love this one. I really do.
A bot that imitates the screams of an angry, lovesick cyborg. This robot's bio reads as follows:
It's pretty similar to the tweets.
Often this account references "robots" and "bots" directly, as well as references from the popular web comic Homestuck, for whatever reason.
For reference, here's a picture of Caliborn:
Find out your randomly generated horoscope pulled from online database content about horoscopes! Here's some examples of various signs' horoscopes according to this bot:
That one seems pretty believable, but the account tweets horoscopes for the twelve horoscopes a couple of times a day, so a lot of them don't make as much sense as the others:
A bot that tweets images found on the internet with a monochromatic color scheme:
9. Quilt Bot
If you mention this bot in a tweet with an image attached, it'll respond with a color quilt made out of images of existing quilts, all arranged to form a close equivalent to the original image. Here's one I sent it and its response to me:
This is one of the many accounts that edits images, and often these bots will tweet each other back and forth, adding more and more edits to the photos as they go. In the following images, Quilt bot is interacting with Pixel Sorter (the bot that creates a distorted, unclear image out of the pictures other accounts tweets to it by resorting the pixels into gradients and patterns).
"Have you listened to [ ] [ ] [ ]?" This bot tweets comments and recommendations on any and all genres, usually making its recommendation by combining three or four music genres, as well as adjectives commonly used to describe music:
I feel obligated to add this one as an art student. Similarly to the Music Genre Generator, the account tweets humorous mock art assignments including the combination of various mediums, subjects, and due dates:
Check out this link for yourself. It amasses interesting GIFs found on Wikipedia pages without any other context or explanation. Here are a couple of the gifs these accounts posted:
13. Ominous Zoom
An image is selected by the bot and then it zooms in on a particularly point on the image. This bot seems to have some facial recognition in its code, because it's usually the zooming point in photos of people. Here are some especially ominous zooms:
14. Poetry Bot
These poems are strung together with words and phrases usually found in human poetry:
These are pleasant to read, but lessened by the fact that they're made up of randomly selected parts of existing poetry. As much as bots are interesting, it is clear that they can't replicate the creative thought process, they can only approximate it with existing art material created by people.
Thousands of these bots exist on Twitter in several different languages generating lots of different types of content. Sometimes I find it hard to grasp the automation of the tweets, because despite the limited 140 characters of Twitter, the accounts deliver a (sometimes) believable micro-narrative that feels 'real'. Amongst the many uses for "bots", an artistic and sometimes humorous sub-category continues to grow rapidly, and it's definitely fun to see and worth checking out for yourself.