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CULTURE
The Infinite Adventure Machine
Designer David Benqué examines the role of imagination in computer-generated folk tales
by Meghan Killeen
on 16 September 2011
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Giving mythical tales a modern makeover, designer David Benqué has created The Infinite Adventure Machine, a story-generating program that merges fairytale narration with digital computing. Modeled after the 31 functions of folktales identified by the philosopher Vladimir Propp, The Infinite Adventure Machine generates timed visual cues and synopses for imagining your own story. Propelling the plot is a formula that denotes each of the 31 functions, such as "Trickery" and "Guidance," with a letter and a number to create a story that is equal parts craft and code.

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Inspired by Neal Stephenson's sci-fi novel, "The Diamond Age," Benqué set out to create an adaptive book that informs the pacing of composition enhanced by the user's own ingenuity. The speculative project was commissioned by Microsoft Research (Cambridge UK) and a participant of the Future of Writing project, The Infinite Adventure Machine signals a rise in narrative science that contemplates the speculative future of fiction. Although automated archetypes provide storytelling signposts, imagination still remains a fundamental element of the process. Benqué states, "I wanted people to question the extent to which reducing stories to a system is a meaningful quest and what part of our brains will remain an enjoyable mystery."

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The Infinite Adventure Machine is a featured project under the collective exhibition, Glitch Fiction. The show will be held at the Cité de la Mode et du Design during Paris Design Week until 18 September 2011.

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