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London Word Festival Review: Man / Machine

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 68 months ago
London Word Festival Review: Man / Machine
Paul Granjon introduces us to a new word - it means pretty much what you think it does / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Paul Granjon introduces us to a new word - it means pretty much what you think it does / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Tamarin Norwood takes inspiration from JG Ballard / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Tamarin Norwood takes inspiration from JG Ballard / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Nikesh Shukla tells us how he built the DanceBot 3000 / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Nikesh Shukla tells us how he built the DanceBot 3000 / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Ross Sutherland voicing his film / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Ross Sutherland voicing his film / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Paul Granjon controls a robot with his mind / photo by Rosie Reed Gold
Paul Granjon controls a robot with his mind / photo by Rosie Reed Gold

We can think of no other situation where we'd see 90s Nickleodeon classic Clarissa Explains It All compared to JG Ballard other than a night at the London Word Festival. Ross Sutherland's LWF-commissioned documentary about computer-generated poetry made the connection for us in a fascinating look at how translation software can break and re-make famous poems - with his witty and self deprecating voice-over performed live. (The whole thing will be available on Vimeo soon, keep an eye on his website.)

Man / Machine took as its start point the relationship between man and technology, and ran off with it in various directions. Nikesh Shukla got the crowd making twisty-lightbulb bhangra moves during his tale of how he built a robot to help him dance, and artist Paul Granjon could easily be mistaken for the kind of Bright Club engineer who takes time out to do comedy shows, as he describes the evolution of sex dolls and demonstrates how an adorable little robot responds to his brainwaves. We were also treated to music from FOUND, creators of the fantastically social media-obsessed Cybraphon.

This combination of ambition and imagination is why we love the London Word Festival. There were a couple of short segments that fell slightly flat, but there's always far more hits than misses. The festival runs for another couple of weeks - check out the celebration of the King James Bible on Saturday, and we thoroughly recommend a spot of Intergender Wrestling, a City crash and a night of Dodgem Logic with Alan Moore, Stewart Lee and Robin Ince.

The London Word Festival continues at various venues in East London until 5th May. We went to this event on a free press ticket. All photos by Rosie Reed Gold.

Last Updated 22 April 2011