Workshop: Top of the Bots: Lyrics, Identity and Machine Learning

21 February 2019

Thu 21 Feb, 6.30 – 9pm
SPACE Mare Street
Buy tickets here

“In moments of identifying with voices, we are seeking to relive the moment of loss, and to ritualise it.” Freya Jarman, Queer Voices

Join artist Libby Heaney for an evening of lyrical identification. You will explore how machine learning is able to reimagine song lyrics by individually and collectively performing its algorithms. In doing so you will question how AI can be programmed to dismantle stereotypical conceptions of identity and reconstruct them into strange new forms.

You will bring three sets of lyrics from your favourite songs and in the workshop you will map how these represent your identity. Next, in groups, you will follow an analogue process similar to how a neural network understands and reimagines text to form your collective ‘Top of the Bots’ song, which represents your collective and individual identities. Each group will create a ritual around their song to help negotiate and (partially) define their collective identity.

We will explore the values and constraints that you set yourselves in groups; how and why you excluded or included certain aspects of your individual identities when forming the collective one and how the neural-network-inspired method informed your outcome. You will also be given a chance to perform your song and ritual, although this is not necessary (you can save it for in front of the mirror later!).

Please bring printouts of the lyrics to three of your favourite songs.


Libby Heaney is an artist, researcher and tutor at the Royal College of Art. With a background in quantum computing, Libby’s practice is concerned with the future (positive) impacts of new technologies with a focus on participation, language and (un)storytelling. Libby has exhibited in the UK and internationally, including at the V&A, Tate Modern and Ars Electronica. Speak with her current Sky Arts Commission at