new zealand electronic poetry centre

Bill Manhire

online works


The Asterisk Machine was originally commissioned as part of the exhibition Now See Hear!  at the Wellington City Art Gallery, 15 July - 30 September 1990. Co-curators Ian Wedde and Gregory Burke commissioned four poets to produce site-specific texts for the show. Bill Manhire, asked for something to put on a three-faced rotographic display unit; came up with The Asterisk Machine we can now call Mark 1:

 Manhire's asterisks machined quietly from a corner of the gallery coffee shop, one every 18 seconds during expected opening hours over three months. There was a note on the wall nearby:

Statisticians estimate that by the time
NOW SEE HEAR! closes on 30 September 1990,
The Asterisk Machine will have produced
approxiametely 121,800 asterisks
- an impressive figure in anybody's language"

Michele Leggott, editorial note in Landfall 177, March 1991. 

The issue published a print version of the Asterisk Machine (Mark 2). THE ASTERISK MACHINE (Mark 3) updates the original work in a web setting. A Windows screensaver version is also available for downloading (1.4 MB)


Last updated 24 July, 2002