Poetoid Lyricam

Poetoid Lyricam

Poetoid Lyricam

Poetoid Lyricam is a camera that takes poems.

It consists of a Raspberry Pi, camera, thermal printer and batteries housed in the body of a 1970s Polaroid camera. The pictures it takes are fed to a neural net which generates captions, these are then mangled and reformatted to resemble a poem, which emerges from the printer on the back.

At EMF 2018 I did a talk on Lyricam, Dada, and my past a present experiments with text generation. The video of it can be viewed here, or below.

Further Reading, Viewing, and Listening


Pimoroni Wide Input Shim

Adafruit Nano Thermal Printer

Cut-up Technique

Gaga for Dada
BBC documentary on Dada from 2016 presented by Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves).
Dada Manifesto on Feeble Love and Bitter Love
By Tristan Tzara. Includes How to Make a Dadaist Poem.
Burroughs 101 - This American Life
Mostly a BBC documentary presented by Iggy Pop about William Burroughs. Stuff about cut-ups is in part 2.
Burroughs, W.S. and Gysin, B. (1978) The Third Mind
Book detailing Gysin and Burroughs’ experiments with the cut-up technique with many examples. Pretty easy to find a PDF on Google.

The Bowie video I showed in the talk

An article on the cut-up technique’s influence on musicians

An article about the Cut-Up Method
Mentions more recent stuff like Cassetteboy and Chris Morris.


When I say that my BBC B is in the bar showing Twitter, I’m referring to Twitbeeb.

Various versions of the Ode source are available on Github.

There’s a web based version of Ode.

Or you can play with the original BBC version in the incredible jsbeeb by Matt Godbolt.

Twitter (and other) Bots

factbot1 and write up by Eric Drass / Shardcore.
His talk that I refer to can be seen on youtube.
Yoko Ono Bot by Rob Manuel of B3ta.
He also did clickbaitrobot, which I like. He did an interesting talk about his bots.
Tracery by Kate Compton.
You can learn and play with it on the tutorial page.
Cheap Bots, Done Quick! by George Buckenham.
The source of many great Twitter bots.

DUNS├ľNs & DRAGGANs by @notinventedhere.

Tasty Bargains!

Sam R Cosgrave by me, and write up.

Inspire Ration also by me.



The image captioning model I used for the original version of Lyricam, no longer developed.
A.I.A.I. my novel for NaNoGenMo 2016
You can look at the source and read the result.


For the Friends script I used this char-rnn code trained on transcripts of the first series of Friends.

The Tensorflow image captioning model I use in the new version of Lyricam.

I modified im2txt to remove the beam search code, instead it use a simpler caption building method with a random element. Every time you run a neural net inference the result is a list of all the words in its vocabulary in order of likelihood of each being the next word. Occasionally instead of using the best word, it will pick another word from further down the list.

I also made it talk directly to the Pi camera using its Python API. This saves vital milliseconds encoding and writing a JPEG, and then reading and decoding it again.

I run the Tensorflow as a daemon as it takes about a minute to start and load the model. The image capture and captioning is triggered by a connection to a network socket, the result is returned over the socket in JSON.