Welcome to Evolution.

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Evolution is an online artwork-in-progress designed to emulate the texts and music of poet and artist Johannes Heldén, with the ultimate goal of passing "The Imitation Game Test" as proposed by Alan Turing in 1951.

With Evolution we aim to examine and dissect the role of the author; when new poetry that resembles the work of the original author is created or presented through an algorithm, is it possible to make the distinction between "author" and "programmer"? And is it even relevant? When the work of the algorithm is extrapolated to the point where the original author becomes redundant, how does this affect copyright, legacy, future writings, etc?

The purpose of the work is not to deromanticize or deconstruct the role of the author, but is rather the ongoing exploration itself. Where will it take us, and perhaps more importantly, what will happen along the way?

The release of Evolution will mark the end of Johannes Heldén writing poetry books. He has, in a sense, been replaced.

The application analyzes a database of all the published text- and soundworks by the artist and generates a continuously evolving poem that simulates Heldén’s style: in vocabulary, the spacing in-between words, syntax.

The audio track is generated by an algorithm that layers the source material of the artist’s compositions in differing randomized lengths, fades and pitch; creating an evolving ambient drone.

Produced with financial support from
Johannes Heldén
Johannes Heldén is a visual artist, poet and musician who lives and works in Stockholm. He has published twelve books, most recently Astroecology (2016) which was published simultaneously in three languages and made into an interdisciplinary performance at the The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, and a digital artwork published by Bonniers Konsthall. Heldén was the recipient of the Swedish art prize the Åke Andrén Fellowship in 2015 and the Evolution project won the inaugural N. Katherine Hayles prize in 2014. He has published four music albums, most recently System (Irrlicht), and seven digital online works of poetry and visual art. He is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Hawthornden Castle. His work has recently been shown at ISEA in Vancouver, Broken Dimanche in Berlin, Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Inspace in Edinburgh, Moderna Museet Stockholm, UB Center for the Arts Buffalo, The Fifth Moscow Biennale, The Media Archaelogy Lab/University of Colorado, Volt in Bergen, ICIDS Istanbul, NIMK in Amsterdam, Dome of Visions in Copenhagen, UKS in Oslo among others.


Håkan Jonson
Håkan Jonson is a programmer, publisher and artist. Born 1978, lives and works in Stockholm. His previous work includes sound creation, conceptual visual designs, hand-crafted books and paintings. He is one half of Irrlicht; a publishing house and record company which primary focus is the contemporary art scene.

The print version of Evolution is out now on OEI editör, featuring the entirety of the code, the performance script and log as well as contributions by John Cayley, Maria Engberg, Jesper Olsson, Jonas Ingvarsson, Cecilia Lindhé and Jakob Lien.

Evolution is the winner of the N.Katherine Hayles Prize.