Ross Goodwin

Life in The Waste Land

Ross Goodwin

Life in The Waste Land

128/128 minted

Project #25687

Published on

In 1970, mathematician John Conway devised his eponymous "Game of Life", also known simply as "Life", a cellular automaton that plays out on a 2D grid of orthogonal cells. The game requires a starting configuration of "living" cells (all other cells are assumed to be "dead"), and at each discrete step forward in time, the following transformations occur:

- Every living cell with fewer than two living neighbors dies, as if by underpopulation.
- Every living cell with more than three living neighbors dies, as if by overpopulation.
- Every living cell with exactly two or three living neighbors survives.
- Every dead cell with exactly three living neighbors comes to life, as if by reproduction.
- Every dead cell without exactly three living neighbors remains dead.

Conway's Game of Life feels very simple at its outset. And yet, computer scientists have discovered a staggering degree of complexity, and a vast lexicon of dynamic forms, all within the bounds of its highly constrained 2D universe. It is Turing complete, meaning that given a large enough grid and an appropriate starting configuration, it's possible to create a functional computer inside Game of Life. Given unlimited processing power and memory, one could run Game of Life inside Game of Life inside Game of Life inside Game of Life... ad infinitum.

But what would it look like for a small percentage of living cells on the grid, in the course of their "lives", to write some poetry?

What if each living cell also could increment somehow at each time step it stayed alive, imbuing cells with a visible age?

"Life in The Waste Land" is Conway's Game of Life applied to poetry -- more specifically, a poem: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot.

In this implementation of Game of Life, the grid is monospaced text, and each living cell has a very small chance of generating a few lines, all entirely inspired by The Waste Land. Each token will track its unique starting configuration's progress forever. The grid is infinite, and the dynamic patterns extend far beyond the fixed boundaries of your screen. Some tokens will remain dynamic for a very long time, while others will settle down quickly, at which point continuously living cells may iterate through nearly every Unicode character.

Thank you for collecting. Please enjoy.

Price9Minting opens(1)Royalties10.0%(1)Tags
The Waste Land
T.S. Eliot
John Conway
Ross Goodwin
Conway's Game of Life
Game of Life
cellular automata


Artist disabled the exploration of variations after minting phase