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Thoughts

concerning the chaotic nature of computers

Computers were originally created to be flawless machines that would help us automate tedious and repetitive tasks. In about a hundred years they've successfully replaced us from the industrial work environment up to our very homes. Yet occasionally my grandmother will turn on her laptop, write a new blogpost, and just before she hits the publish button she will be welcomed with a blue screen, forcing her to start over again.

The chaotic nature of computers is due to two phenomenons : glitches, these short-lived system faults which are often difficult to troubleshoot as they take place at the microscopic levels of our electronic systems. And bugs, reproducable errors that come from bad code written by humans.

As someone who thought of coding as purely functional, realizing that computers were both bound to their physical nature and subject to human mistakes completely changed my perspective. To know that machines are not immuable and in fact very similar in aspects to us and the world around us, made me realize that coding did not have to be an impersonnal means to solve problems. And that code could in fact be a vector for creativity.

My first big inspirations that come to mind are two code-meta projects : Code poetry, a repository of poems that play with indentation and variable names to give double meaning to snippets of code. And Esoteric.codes, a research blog written by Daniel Temkin documenting experimental languages, opening the doors of programming as a means of self-expression. Though these approaches to code and art were inherently text-based, what struck me the most is that they both stood on the fringe of computer limits and human expression.

As a visual coder, this pushed me to find inspirations elsewhere, to turn my computer off for a moment and to start looking at the world around me. Not to reproduce it in high details, but to reinvent it with a naïve, artistic and erratic approach. As I draw most of my inspirations from natural phenomenons and metropolitan environments, I've found that both follow fascinating patterns and similar rules, and that these rules can be broken too. These systems, wether they be subway networks or coral reef structures set in place hundreds (if not millions) of years before us, aren't as complex as they seem to be. But are the consequences of large scale chaotic behaviors which, when hacked with code, will tell entirely different stories.