The title for this painting comes from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, and refers to a fictional device employed by Ingsoc, the ruling party of Oceania. Its primary purpose is to act as a ‘writing machine’, a machine which produces both literature and music, its primary target audience being the proles. The purpose of the versificator is to provide a means of producing ‘creative’ output without having any of the party members having to actually engage in a creative thought.
The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound. He could hear the woman singing and the scrape of her shoes on the flagstones, and the cries of the children in the street, and somewhere in the distance, a faint roar of traffic, and yet the room seemed curiously silent, thanks to the absence of a telescreen.George Orwell – 1984