20.12.2020 online performance and exhibition at the Museum of Science and Technology in Belgrade by Katarina Petrović with the Interactions Group.
performance participants: Orion Maxted, Katarina Petrović, Renske Vroomans, Izabelė Jonušaitė, Enrico Sandro Collizzi, Sára Iványi, Cadell Last, Marie Groothof and Thomas Dudkiewicz.

Negative Poetry Human Algorithm is an online performance bridging collective thinking, theatre and complexity science, performed by a computer made of people who together tackle the complex task of transforming a poem into its opposite, thereby generating a potentially infinite combinatorial polyphony of possibilities.

The work is a collaboration between Katarina Petrović, Orion Maxted and The Interactions group. The Interactions group is a transdisciplinary ‘thought band’ of roughly 20 artists, scientists and philosophers who together explore the weird and wonderful folds in the dimensions of all possible collective thought through experiments in collective intelligence, complexity science, cybernetics and algorithmic theatre.

Negative Poetry is an experiment in language, part of an ongoing research into creative processes, language and the concept of Origin.

The work centers around the entanglement of matter and meaning by focusing on the intriguing and paradoxical concept of zero - that which is both something and nothing at the same time.

The term Negative Poetry is inspired by the mathematical concept of approaching zero through the concept of cancellation where -n and n result in 0. In calculus, if we want to find the value of an essentially indeterminate form - zero - we try to approximate it by finding its ‘nearby’ values. We can thus approach zero from positive and/or negative direction and the resulting limit of each equation approaches different infinities (∞ and-∞) as it gets closer and closer to 0.

The key question is can the same be applied to natural language?

Orion Maxted (theatre maker/artscientist), Katarina Petrović (artscientist), Renske Vroomans (evolutionary biologist), Enrico Sandro Colizzi (evolutionary biologist), Izabelė Jonušaitė (philosopher), Sára Iványi (poet), Thomas Dudkiewicz (theatre maker), Marie Groothof (theatre maker) and Cadell Last (philosopher). Programming and technical support by Keez Duyves (PIPSlab) and Jur de Vries.

The Interactions group is hosted and supported by the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Amsterdam (IAS). Negative Poetry is an online research exhibition by Katarina Petrović, virtually hosted by the Museum of Science and Technology in Belgrade.

NPHA is part of a larger research study by Katarina Petrović. To view the entire exhibition please visit
An algorithmic performance means it is based on a set of rules rather than a fixed script, and therefore the performance is different every time it is performed. For this version of the Negative Poetry: Human Algorithm, we translated the following poem from +p to -p:

Rae Armantrout

  1. Operation Phantom Fury.
  2. The full force
  3. of the will to live
  4. is fixed
  5. on the next
  6. occasion:
  7. someone
  8. coming with a tray,
  9. someone
  10. calling a number.
  11. Each material
  12. fact
  13. is a pose,
  14. an answer
  15. waiting to be chosen.
  16. "Just so," it says.
  17. "Ask again!"