The Wrench (2008)

The Wrench recasts Levi's novel as a mobile phone text-message exchange between participants and an artificially-intelligent character.

Full Description

Primo Levi's The Monkey's Wrench, published in Italian in 1978, is a fictional collection of tales told to a narrator by an itinerant steelworker, Tino Faussone. Faussone's sharply observed accounts of life on the job outline an idiosyncratic philosophy organized by profound individuality and a deeply contingent and physical relationship to the world. The stories reflect on both the meaning of work and the work of narrative.

Knifeandfork's The Wrench recasts Levi's work into a mobile phone text-message exchange between participants and a contemporary Tino played by an artificially intelligent agent. Taking place over the course of a week, the dialogue, though reminiscent of an SMS-novel, is not entirely predetermined. Rather, Tino attempts to be convincingly human, and the real-time narrative intertwines the lives of the character and participant through the ubiquitous yet restrictive communication channel of text-messaging. Further, certain interests and events of the character's life are dynamically generated from real-world material via RSS/Atom content feeds. By animating Levi's original text, The Wrench challenges the division between the experience of a fiction and our performance of everyday life.

The Wrench is technically realized with Knifeandfork's TXTML, free software for creating interactive SMS applications. The script itself is open-source: participants, should they be so inclined, are able to view, modify, and expand the structure of the narrative.

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