E.L.I., or Electro-Linguistic Imaginator, is the first roaming poet of the Byte Generation. He travels about with the help of his friends Christian Croft, Ben Coolik, and Todd Shalom sharing randomly generated poetry in exchange for new vocabulary words for his database. After hundreds of interactions, E.L.I.'s poetry has transformed from strange techno-babble to an astonishingly communicative medium able to transfer language and ideas across various sociocultural spaces. So far, E.L.I. has culled words and spread poems in New York, Miami, Washington, DC, Ft. Benning, GA and Athens, GA at activities as diverse as festivals, protests, and sporting events. A bizarre cross pollination occurs in E.L.I.'s wanderings, where a football fan is as likely to learn "War is not the answer" as a political demonstrator is to hear "Go Dawgs!" E.L.I.: Nomad was conceived at The Kitchen's 2003 Summer Institute through the collaboration of Coolik, Croft, and Shalom and is being funded by a project grant from Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE), a collaborative arts research institution at the University of Georgia.
E.L.I. is celebrating his first birthday this month (June 2004). Fresh off of a face lift, E.L.I. will tour America on a road trip this summer, beckoning pedestrians and old friends for new words that will increase his vocabulary.
On the E.L.I. website, the web user can follow the young poet's adventures to date with numerous photos and anecdotes, generate examples of E.L.I. poetry (all made live at random from E.L.I.'s current vocabulary database), make their own poems with a unique compositional space that incorporates draggable dropdown boxes, and sign up to receive original poetry postcards from his road trip this July 2004.