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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 soundcloud.com, 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 soundcloud.com/terribaddie.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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