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When a Generative Track Takes On a Life of Its Own

One of the strong suits of Otomata, the browser-based web app of generative-sound ingenuity, is its social component. The app employs a Conway’s Game of Life grid as the basis for collision-based music making, and then lets users easily share with each other those select patterns of which they find themselves suitably proud — like a double helix (see screenshot at right), or one based on the classic Game of Life figuration termed a “glider,” or what an Otomata enthusiast called “a really long loop.”

But if ever a bottle were designed to let out genies, it would be the Internet, and thus audio produced in Otomata flourishes even beyond the well-intentioned cabinet of pattern curiosities that its developer, Batuhan Bozkurt, built into its coding. (An extensive interview with Bozkurt, who is based in Istanbul, Turkey, was published here yesterday: “When Cells Collide.”) Over at, for example, a search for “otomata” lists a growing number of recordings that take Otomata’s end result as a starting point. One of the strongest is, true to the app, quite simple: it merely applies effects to the Otomata-generated sound, adding a layer of dubby echo, and thus removing some of the self-evident repetition inherent in the original. The track is credited to Terribaddie:

Track originally posted at

By Marc Weidenbaum

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