soUNDrelease: armslegshestback by Samantha Boudrot

I am pleased to announce the online release of Samantha Boudrot’s armslegshestback!

The piece was made in January for Jenkins Johnson Gallery’s T_XT_RT exhibition in San Francisco.  It also appeared in JJ’s New York gallery this summer.

HELPINGER Press publishes it here in .gif form!

About the piece:

armslegshestback is an animated visual poem on a loop.  Playing between permutation, minimalism, and the game-poem, the piece invites each reader to be a co-thinker and co-creator.

Boudrot first wrote the poem by hand.  This animated iteration enacts her writing of the poem–the move of each letter-piece from one space to another.

About the author:

Samantha Boudrot is an intermedia poet and musician living in San Francisco.

Look for more spontaneous publications from HELPINGER Press on this site and the SF Guerrilla Opera blog.



soUNDreport: Canyouhearmenow?

Hello again.

In light of the news media’s rampant pigeonholing of the Civic Center protest on Monday, we want to clarify SF Guerrilla Opera’s role in the matter and offer the video below as a more comprehensive report on the protest.  While the Opera company is deeply invested, and will continue to be invested, in the struggles for an open Internet and freedom of speech, we do not support Anonymous’ attack on  Nor do we feel we were took part in Anonymous’ protest.

Ours was a guerrilla opera, plain and simple, that coincided with Anonymous’ protest.  As with every guerrilla opera, the opera’s specific concerns are found in the opera’s score.  Though, once the score is enacted, anything can happen and any number of unintended “meanings” can arrive–singers are invited to sing and act only as feels right in the moment.  The score:


Meet down on the Civic Center BART platform at 5:00pm TODAY.

For one hour, with a phone to your ear, sing (from whisper to monotone to belch) and repeat this:

| |:  Can you hear me now?  😐 |


We would also like to add that there were a handful of other groups hardly recognized by the news media.  One group, Writers Bloc, came with hearts cut out of red construction paper.  All were invited to write their own message on these hearts.  Many other demonstrators sang their own chants apart from the widely documented “No Justice/No Peace/Disband the BART Police.”  See our Canyouhearmenow? video below for a fairly comprehensive documentation of Monday’s protest.  Here‘s another video that does an even better job.

We find this diversity of concerns and tactics to be a great thing.  Thanks to open access to things like YouTube and blogs these diverse stories can be heard and can diffuse the largely negative, pigeonholed reports from the news media.  We hope the video below will contribute humor and further insight into Monday’s demonstration.  To explore our past operas, check out the collected videos here on Ron Silliman’s blog.  For coverage of the BART’s censorship of last Thursday’s protest and Anonymous’ intervention, this is a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tom Comitta & SF Guerrilla Opera



soUNDcall for submissions

Announcing the soUNDtext call for submissions!!!!

Please see these separate links for details on how to submit your soUNDscoressoUNDfonts, and soUNDtexts.

All of the above will be published by HELPINGER Press.  In November we will release the first soUNDscore anthology.  soUNDfonts and soUNDtexts will be released on the soUNDtext Portal and on this blog as they become available.

The deadline for soUNDscores is October 1, 2011.  soUNDfont and soUNDtext submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis.

All submissions should be directed to

Here’s a link to the soUNDtext word processor free download (67MB).

Thanks for stopping by!  We look forward to hearing from you.


Tom Comitta & HELPINGER Press



*To date the soUNDtext word processor is only compatible with MAC computers.  We hope to make a PC version as soon as possible.  If you have MAX MSP for Windows, we could use your help…

*The HELPINGER catalogue is available for free PDF download and in print at cost value:  A Night At The Opera With Hosni Mubarak Hosted By Dave Eggers and soUNDtext User’s Manual.


On July 28, 2011, the same day I released soUNDtext, my video Fuck You (for Janey Smith) was flagged by a YouTube user and deleted by the YouTube Team.  I want to take the time here to document the particulars of this video and its censorship.  You can find the video here and at the end of this post.

Fuck You (for Janey Smith) started with an accident:  I was playing iTunes on shuffle last November when Kenneth Goldsmith’s rendition (mp3) of Bern Porter’s The Last Acts of Saint Fuck You (mp3) began to play.  At the time, I had previously downloaded Goldsmith’s track from PennSound but had yet to hear it.  Just after the climactic end to Porter/Goldsmith’s abecedarian romp, Leonard Bernstein’s rendition of Georges Bizet’s “March of the Toreadors” crashed through the speakers.  Familiar with Goldsmith’s remix tendencies, I assumed Bernstein’s track was the intended end to Goldsmith’s reading.  A quick check of the iTunes music library proved I was wrong–that this mash-up was in fact chance-generated (with the help of an algorithm).

A month later, after opening a YouTube account to share my video and sound poetry, I had the idea to use this chance mash-up as audio for a video.  At the time I was fascinated by the Google image search as a generative and critical tool for my text-based practice.  With the image search, one word or phrase, even a paragraph, could explode into thousands of “relevant or useful images” (see Google Sr. Product Manager Peter Linsley talk about the mechanics and theory of Google image search here) often conveying a found narrative steeped in personal, cultural, social, and political anxieties.  Also of interest was an examination of Google’s image search algorithm as a gendered, socio-political force*.  (Note that this Google image search method is reminiscent of certain Flarf practices.)

The idea was this:  to help Google image search and its results speak for themselves.

The means was a video:

Fuck You (for Janey Smith) (link to Vimeo) consists of the chance mash-up discussed above paired with the first nine pages of images (283 images in total), presented in the order they were found, that Google image search connected to the text “Fuck You (for Janey Smith).”  The framing and duration of each image were determined by iPhoto’s slideshow defaults.

Note that I used only “Large” images (one of the Google image search filter options) to accommodate different screen dimensions.  Note that if you search with this same text today, eight months  later, nearly all traces of “graphic” images and pornography have vanished even with the “SafeSearch” off…

Just after uploading the video on December 21, 2010, YouTube automatically sent me this (pdf) email to inform me that I had uploaded content copyrighted by Sony Music Entertainment.  The only penalties suffered were that the video could not be shown in Germany, Sony would advertise the sale of its track (“March of the Toreadors”) below the video, and YouTube would increase general advertising on the video’s page.  While it was a shame the Germans would be excluded, the latter two penalties actually benefitted my piece:  YouTube blindly affixed advertisements on top of, below, and beside the video, highlighting and reinforcing the bombardment of images and the cultural regurgitation of the video.

Because I cannot access the page to show you this first-hand, please see this great example of YouTube’s copyright policy working against itself:  After YouTube user ThomasPaineIsBack uploaded a mash-up video using Charlie Chaplin’s copyrighted “Speech from the Great Dictator,” YouTube unwittingly mashed up this anarchist message from Anonymous (hacktivist group) with advertisements for QuickBooks Pro, BP oil, and the NBA2K12 video game.  My video forced YouTube to produce a similar mash-up.

For eight months and eight days, Fuck You (for Janey Smith) enjoyed 24/7, worldwide (minus Germany) “airtime.”  It entertained 265 people, received no likes or dislikes, and garnered two comments:  User SamanthaBoudrot wrote: “Bravo.  Bra.  Vo.”  User erasingfield wrote:  “Your toast, Sir, I can give it to you–”

All was dandy until July 28, 2011 when one user flagged my video, the YouTube Team reviewed it, removed it, and sent me this email (pdf).  (For some reason the Gmail pdf didn’t capture the half-peachy, half-raging red (png) that came with the email.)  The link includes the email sent by the YouTube Team as well as my response (written hastily while designing the soUNDtext Portal–pardon the typos…).  You’ll see two “hidden” emails to Samantha Boudrot.  These are forwards of the YouTube email and my response.  At the end of the pdf, you will find my followup email written today.

The second paragraph of the YouTube Team email seems to be their best argument against my video:

YouTube is not a shock site. It’s not okay to post gross-out videos of accidents, dead bodies or similar things intended to be shocking, sensational or disrespectful. If your video is graphic or disturbing, it can only remain on the site where supported by appropriate educational or documentary information.

While I understand that the images might be offensive to some, I stand by the video’s educational and documentary qualities (explained explicitly below the video all along).  Now more than at the time it was made, Fuck You (for Janey Smith) is a document of Google image search’s algorhithm (I repeat from before that Google has “cleaned up” search results for “Fuck You (for Janey Smith)” and, I will assume, “Fuck You” since I made the video), Internet culture, and The Default.  I had no intention of being shocking, sensational, or disrespectful–in fact, I had hardly any intention or “say” in the production of this video apart from naming the video and deciding to perform an image search.  I repeat the last line of the text published below the video on YouTube:

This is not intended as porn. If there is any intention here, it would be to show what’s already there (here). Regurgitation.

To date YouTube has not responded to my requests to return the video to my channel or to remove my “warning strike.”  If they do, I will post their response.

To end off today I leave you with the video itself.

Thank you for reading.



*At the time in 2010, if you searched for “man” or “woman” you would find mostly white, macho men, superheroes and images of aggression for the former and mostly white, sexualized women, superheroes, and pornography for the latter.

soUNDvideo: Ashley Brim

Writer Ashley Brim just sent me this video she made using soUNDtext.  Recorded at a cyborg “jam” held at my apt last Friday, this soUNDtext uses Samantha Boudrot’s soUNDfont U Q Y.  Notice the great variation that occurs when you “set” your soUNDfont at different pitches.  The lower voice you hear is in fact the same soUNDfont (probably set at .5).

Thanks to Ashley for a great soUNDtext and video!



P.S. When I say soUNDtext without italics, I refer to the audio created by the union of handwritten text (the text you input into the program) and soUNDfont.  soUNDtext = the soUND that the soUNDtext program creates.

soUNDvideos: Samantha Boudrot and Nico Komodore

Five days since the official release of soUNDtext and I’m excited to share these videos of the word processor in action.

First, we have a clip of the band Two Bulls in your China Shop live at Jordan Karnes’ house in Oakland.  The band’s current lineup is singer/songwriter and guitarist/ukuleleist Samantha Boudrot and drummer Jessamyn Cuneo.

Halfway through their set, the band invited me to accompany their song “U Q Y for soUNDtext” with the soUNDtext program.  Like “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” the song is a pangram–it includes every letter in the alphabet.  To make her soUNDfont “U Q Y”, Boudrot sang the song a cappella and sampled 95 moments of the recording.  The 95 moments were then saved as individual sound files that, when played in soUNDtext, line up with their particular, pre-assigned characters on the English keyboard.

To accompany the band last night, I set Boudrot’s soUNDfont to 6X speed, sampled the song’s chorus “A E I O U Y/ A E I O U Q Y,” and improvised on the keyboard:

More music by Samantha Boudrot and videos from the above performance can be found on Samantha Boudrot’s youtube channel.  Two Bulls in your China Shop will perform this August 27 at Brainwash in San Francisco, CA.

Note:  You, too, can play with Samantha Boudrot’s soUNDfont U Q Y if you download soUNDtext for FREE (67 MB zip file).


Next, we have some exciting experimental video work by Greek filmmaker Nico Komodore.  In Pi, he takes the number pi and samples it in soUNDtext–with text box and keyboard improvisation–for 3 minutes and 14 seconds.  It seems he used the soUNDfonts Default and Watermark:

Seferis, the second video Komodore made with soUNDtext, uses the soUNDfont U Q Y.  Both videos are a part of Komodore’s ongoing Mayakov+sky project.

More of his videos can be found here on his youtube channel  Text-art fans will especially enjoy Apollinaire’s Tongue.


That’s all for now!  Coming this week:  a blog post documenting youtube’s censorship–a la flagging and deleting–of one of my videos and another post announcing the soUNDscore/soUNDfont/soUNDtext call for submissions!

I also hope to record and upload “getting around soUNDfont” and “making a soUNDfont” video tutorials asap.  In the meantime, read through the “GETTING AROUND” and “MAKING A soUNDfont” sections in the User’s Manual:  found in the soUNDtext free download or in print here.

Thanks for stopping by!




soUNDtext 1.0 release!!!!!

Announcing the release of the soUNDtext word processor!!!!!!


Click here for a direct download (67MB zip file).


This is the minimum information you need to get started with soUNDtext (from the “Getting Around” section in the User’s Manual):


Prepare soUNDtext for operation:

1. Open the program

2. Drag all VOLUME bars to the top

3. Click and type “1” into each soUND PITCH BOX

4. Drag soUNDfont folders into soUNDfont DROP BOXES

5. Click the MASTER soUND button


And then play!  See the User’s Manual for more information.


And here‘s a link to what I’ll call the soUNDtext Portal.