A fama is walking through a forest, and although he needs no wood he gazes greedily at the trees. The trees are terribly afraid because they are acquainted with the customs of the famas and anticipate the worst. Dead center of the wood there stands a handsome eucalyptus and the fama on seeing it gives a cry of happiness and dances respite and dances Catalan around the disturbed eucalyptus, talking like this:
— Antiseptic leaves, winter with health, great sanitation!
He fetches an axe and whacks the eucalyptus in the stomach. It doesn’t bother the fama at all. The eucalyptus screams, wounded to death, and the other trees hear him say between sighs:
— To think that all this imbecile had to do was buy some Valda tablets.
In order for Levenshtein's Distance to read the fragment and produce a unique book, you need to change one word.
You can choose another tree species for the eucalyptus, the main tree in the fragment. The Levenshtein Distance will then calculate which species is in its vicinity and the more generic word 'trees' will be replaced in the fragment by this new species.
'Levenshtein Distance reads Cortázar' is the fifth chapter of ÁGORA / CEMENTO / CÓDIGO, an online exhibition curated by Lekutan, within the programme of Komisario Berriak supported by Tabakalera. Anaïs Berck presents herewith a first version of a first book of the publishing house 'Algoliterary Publishing: making kin with trees'. In this publishing house the authors are algorithms, presented with their contexts and codes; and the books present the narrative point of view of the algorithm.
The author of this book is the algorithm Levenhstein Distance, the subject is the eucalyptus tree in "Fama y eucalipto", an excerpt from Historias de Cronopios y de Famas by Julio Cortázar.
The printrun of the book is by definition infinite and each copy is unique.
Levenshtein distance, edit distance or word distance is an algorithm that operates in spell checkers. It is the minimum number of operations required to transform one word into another. An operation can be an insertion, deletion or substitution of a character. The algorithm was an invention of Russian scientist Vladimir Levenshtein in 1965.