Textual Automata, 2016

This project is built upon the concept of the British mathematician John Conway's Game of Life from 1970, which uses simple code-based rules to govern cellular automata. The game became famous due to the fact that despite the basic governing rules, surprising levels of complexity are achieved.

Textual Automata builds upon Conway's game, but implements the rules within a linguistic context. The "textual automata" evolve from a list of synonyms: if a synonym for the initial word can be found in the thesaurus, the textual automata will continue to grow. If not, it will die out.

Conceptually this project looks a structural linguistics as a method for developing form, pattern, and complexity. This piece is envisioned as a form of algorithmic concrete poetry.

Note: This piece can be shown as an interactive Internet-based project where a user can enter the initial seed words, or it can be shown as a stand-alone projection where the initial words are chosen randomly by the computer. This project works best in the Chrome or Firefox browsers.

Joel Swanson & Satchel Spencer