jeweled platypus


wednesday, january 23, 2008
The aesthetics of squiggles

I downloaded these images in October 2001 from The Wallpaper Machine (you have to highlight the text since it doesn’t work anymore), by Roy Williams and Bruce Sears:

The Wallpaper Machine was a magical combination of nerdiness (reaction-diffusion systems) and more nerdiness (web 1.0 graphical tiled backgrounds). I had no idea how it worked, but I liked how the tiles looked and used them as backgrounds for the first version of something that eventually turned into this website. Now I’m a little older and can read more about reaction-diffusion systems for context even though I still don’t understand much:

Suprisingly complex structures arise out of very simple equations — that is the essence of Alan Turing’s idea. ¶ In this case the equations have been solved on a torus, which means you could use this or one of the many other examples of evolution for tiling the screen on a Web page.

This is a related image from Roy Williams that is pretty in its bright scientific way:

In the middle of the mathy Wikipedia article, there’s another eye-catching group:

And these patterns are found in birds and fish.

comments (0)

comments are off. for new comments, my email address is


I’m Britta Gustafson.

Popular posts

Fold a paper icosahedron

My handmade map of California

How the internet feels like a city

Blade Runner in San Francisco

Learning to see telephone poles

How UCSB joined ARPAnet

What is a book?

a little pixelly man, upside-down