Mark of Help

Nick Montfort


Even 256 characters of stand-alone code can endlessly generate an erratic text reflecting on the Python programming language itself. The Mark of Help program itself is free software, and the same for all broadsides. Everyone is invited to study it to determine how it works — and to do anything else with it.

Fifty unique broadsides were generated on July 12, 2022 by running the Mark of Help program fifty different times. Each one was the result of five minutes of program execution. Because each of the fifty runs of the program were done for a fixed period of time, rather than until a fixed number of lines were generated, the length of each broadside varies.

The fifty items constitute a set but this set is not an “edition,” because there are no copies — each broadside is unique. The time of generation is indicated on each broadside; because there is no edition the items are not numbered. Each broadside is signed by the author.

Each of the three broadsides presented at POÈME SBJKT is accompanied by a digital recording of the author reading the text. The recordings are exclusive to the exhibit.

Featured in POÈME SBJKT, an exhibition of works of literature both on and off the blockchain that enhance, reinvent, and reimagine the relationship between text and image, analog and digital, blurring and challenging the lines that seek to divide.

POÈME SBJKT was curated by theVERSEverse in partnership with L’Avant Galerie Vossen and took place at Librairie Métamorphoses from May 25 – July 15, 2023.

Contact Librairie Métamorphoses for purchasing inquiries.