30 Jan 2013

Okay, so I’ll start off this post with an ancient little something from Ben Fry himself, a web browser called tendril. It’s a wonderful little piece of software and a great reminder that our desire and overriding concern for functionality can prevent us from examining just what forms our tools can take. This web browser generates typographic structures from the words on web pages. These digital sculptures resemble, appropriately enough, tendrils or thick roots. Any links on the web page are colored differently and may be clicked, spawning a new tendril-page off of the old one. As an intersection between information visualization and generative form, I feel this is an important (relatively old) exploration of just what was possible.



Next up I figured I would mention Entropy, the spawn created when esoteric programming languages meet the glitch aesthetic. For those unaware, esoteric programming languages seek to utterly subvert typical programming language conventions (and logic) while remaining Turing complete. You can certainly program in such languages, but they would be impossible to use on a regular basis.

Entropy fucks up your years of imperative programming use by forcing you to let go of the rigid assumption that your data is relatively stable barring some terrible mistake or accident. See, in Entropy, values change as they are accessed in small increments. The result is the eventual breakdown of a program’s output.This is fascinating, as it is generative whether or not the programmer wants it to be – he or she doesn’t even get to set any baseline parameters like in other conventional generative works.

See more here: http://esolangs.org/wiki/Entropy


Probably the best way I could describe the game Love is to compare it to Minecraft, although that would be short-selling it greatly. Made by Eskil Steenberg, the game is for the most part entirely procedurally generated, down to the animations. It is an MMO where the gameplay is primarily cooperative – players seek to work together to defeat enemies and build settlements, and in addition there are AI groups to interact with as you see fit. It differs from Minecraft in aesthetic considerations, certainly. It’s freaking beautiful. Go play it.