Playing with databases

Below is a recording of a poem-sketch made using the MRC psycholinguistics database. You can just go ahead and listen to it, or read more about the process and background below.

vox lab poem sketch 1 by jwilkes

The poem consists of sets of words produced from the database by varying the level of “imageability”, or how easy a word is to visualise. Joanette, Goulet and Iannequin illustrate this by asking us to think about the difference between the words “anger” and “antitoxin”; the former is abstract but easy to visualise, whereas the latter is concrete but hard to visualise.

I set the level of imageability to the highest level consistent with producing only one word. This was 660, on a scale which goes from 100 to 700, and it produced the word ‘BEACH’, repeated three times. I then decreased imageability in steps of 5, from 655 down to 630. With each of these seven iterations, the set of words available increased, and in this work-in-progress I simply read them out in alphabetical order.

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