Mark of Help

A Bad Quarto publication

Mark of Help

Mark of Help, four instances folded up.
Nick Montfort, 2022
Dimensions vary per instance: 9.5" × [55", 66", or 77"] fanfold computer paper with program and generated output.

Even 256 characters of stand-alone code can endlessly generate an erratic text reflecting on the Python programming language itself.

The Mark of Help program itself is free software, is the same for all broadsides, and is pictured clearly here and here. You are invited to study it to determine how it works — and to do anything else you wish with it.

Fifty unique broadsides were generated on July 12, 2022 by running the Mark of Help program fifty different times. Each one was the result of five minutes of program execution. Because each of the fifty runs of the program were done for a fixed period of time, rather than until a fixed number of lines were generated, the length of each broadsides varies.

The fifty items constitute a set but this set is not an “edition,” because there are no copies — each broadside is unique. The time of generation is indicated on each broadside; because there is no edition the items are not numbered. Each broadside is signed by the author.

The broadsides are dot matrix printed on acid-free perforated continuous fanfold computer paper.

Broadsides are occasionally sold with digital recordings of the author reading the text. The broadside + recording is not available online, but can be obtained at gallery shows and other in-person contexts. The included recordings are delivered on a USB flash drive readable by current Linux, Macintosh, and Windows computers. Collectors should take care to back up their audio files, as Bad Quarto cannot send replacements.

Set of 50 unique instances, each signed by the author.

Broadside alone: $30.

Contact Nick — — to order.

Detail of Mark of Help, sheet one from a five-sheet instance with code in focus. View of all of sheet one from one instance of Mark of Help. View of a several sheets of a Mark of Help instance. Full view of one Mark of Help instance.

Bad Quarto.