Between Code and Poetry with Lai Yi Ohlsen

What frameworks shape our perspective of the world? Algorithms or poetics? Lai Yi Ohlsen shares her projects, code poems and 100 scores, and discusses how the frameworks of tech, poetry, and movement intersect.
code poem by Lai Yi Ohlsen

Artist Lai Yi Ohlsen does not consider herself a poet. She claims she doesn’t know enough about poetry to do so. Yet, Ohlsen, an artist and tech worker operating at the intersection of measurement, media, and movement, began composing code poems while learning to code. The series name came about because she didn't know what else to call them.

By her definition, code poems subvert the structural framework of poetry, which uses language to deepen meaning, by using coding language. At the onset of this series, code poems allowed her to see the poetic coexistence between “dry computer science” and the “seemingly disorganized world people moved in.” Ohlsen witnessed this interplay on the dance floor, where dancers naturally employed qualities of coding as they sorted and flowed through networks of people. As a movement artist, Ohlsen was motivated to go beyond code poems’ role to determine what is happening and created a series called 100 scores to act as a proposal for movement inspired by computers. In this time of quarantine, both code poems and 100 scores are helping Ohlsen process and filter her daily life. She invites you to do the same. Join Ohlsen on April 28 from 7:30-9pm to learn how to compose your own code poem.

Three code poems by Lai Yi Ohlsen
Three code poems by Lai Yi Ohlsen

“There is no right way to write a code poem, I don’t even think you need code. I love algorithms and movement, so processing through their structures works well for mebut the overarching premise of these projects is that we all have frameworks that we filter information and knowledge through. Any discipline one is intimately familiar with can produce a code poem or a movement score. This practice is about embracing that potential to imagine new formations.” — Lai Yi Ohlsen

Three movement scores from 100 scores by Lai Yi Ohlsen
Three movement scores from 100 scores by Lai Yi Ohlsen
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