Humans and machines are in constant conversations. Intelligent machines today are not only observers of the world, but they also make creative decisions. If A.I imitates human beings to generate a symbolic system and actively communicate with us based on their own understandings of the universe, to what degrees their messages and meanings will recontextualize our coexistence? 

_仓 颉 的 诗                                                                                                                                               2020

Cangjie’s Poetry is a multimodal intelligent system that was designed as a conceptual response to the future semantic human-machine reality. Inspired by Cangjie, an ancient Chinese legendary historian (c.2650 BCE), who invented Chinese characters based on his observation of characteristics of everything on earth, we trained a neural network to learn the constructions and principles of over 9000 Chinese characters and named it Cangjie.


Cangjie first transforms surroundings perceived by the neural network through a camera into a cluster of ever-changing new symbols that constructed by Chinese strokes. Those novel symbols compose a dynamically evolving poem. In the meantime, Cangjie also creates meanings for those symbols by using computer vision systems to generate descriptive sentences of the surroundings in natural language that humans can read.


JOYNT Edition:

As an artistic response to the Covid 19 pandemic, instead of using real-time live streaming of surroundings in the art installation as a video feed, we collect and curate submissions of daily footages worldwide. Cangjie interprets those collective memories and generates the poetry using its own symbolic system.


Weidi Zhang

Donghao Ren


Time Varied 

Interactive Media Art Installation


Prof. Legrady and Experimental Vis Lab

JOYNT edition video providers:

Abdalla Morsi, Adam Menter, Ahmed Sarhan, Lijiaozi Cheng, Danica Sapit,

Jing Yan, Jordan Gray, Lisa Kolb, Mert Toka, Mohammad Helmy, Myungin Lee,

Nataliia Frank, Quinn Keck, Shiyu Lv, Sijia Li, Kaiping Sui

VIDEO DOCUMENTATION   [ 2 minutes ] 


Installation Mock-Up View  

Visualization I on the left side, Visualization II on the right side

Cangjie is not only a conceptual response to the tension and fragility in the coexistence of humans and machines but also an artistic expression of a future language that reflects on ancient truths, a way to evoke enchantment in this artificial intelligence era. The interactivity of this intelligent system prioritizes ambiguity and tension that exists between the actual and the virtual, machinic vision and human perception, and past and present.



From learning over 9000 Chinese characters, Cangjie creates its own symbolic system. It observes the real-world, writes poetry using its symbolic system, and explains it in natural language to audiences.


Just like the legendary historian CangJie did nearly 5000 years ago. It continuously writes poetry with humans collaboratively,

never ends, as long as the real world exists.