These images were generated on an Amstrad PC in the early to mid 90’s. I wrote the program in Basic (Basic came bundled with the computer) to play with the idea of generating whole images similar to the way movement is generated in cellular automata, like John Conway’s Game of Life. Even though the only thing I knew of Conway’s Life was what I’d seen on a Nova science program. What this program allowed me to do was to create a grid of approximately 80 x 50 squares that could be filled with gray scale values from 0 – 9. I started off with randomly placed black and white squares and the program took over from there. The program looked at the value of the surrounding squares and the value of the four squares two places away at cardinal points, and then replaced the original square with a value computed from the weighted values of the surrounding squares. The more proximate the square the more weight it was given. Running the program without putting in the symmetry generates images very much like looking at a sky full of fluffy cumulus clouds. Add the symmetry and faces etc. magically appear. Our simian brain has trained over millions of years to quickly recognize the symetrical eyes of predators. Not all the images are as striking as many of these are, I edited them down from about twice the number. I recorded them off the crt display with my video camera, thus the degraded quality of the images.
I’ve often wondered what such a program running on a current day PC at a much higher resolution would produce. When I got my first PC running Windows 95 I was disappointed to find no Basic there. I’ve not done programming other than some simple stuff in Flash ever since.
Cellular Automata models in Java
If the player above is not working try this link.