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Wolfram Summer SchoolFounded in 2003

16th Annual Wolfram Summer School, held at Bentley University June 24–July 13, 2018


Tara Krause

Class of 2004


In December 2002, Tara Krause had her Dian Fossey moment in encountering a totalistic NKS rule 1599. And as with/in Dante--Incipit vita nuova.

Since then, through the opportunity of a fellowship, she has been exploring that resonance/discovery in her art practice with a short film, Cellular Automata, Undulating Jellies & Pulsing Bonitas; three solarplate etchings of rules 110, 52 and a mobile automaton (NKS 2003); a virtual installation, Mojave Perturbations: NKS Qualia Emergent (October 2003); an NKS Translucida series of paintings of acrylic on aluminum plates (NKS 2004); and a spectrum of monotype experiments in reactive printmaking. The idea of creating complex art from simple rules intrigues, energizes, and haunts her.

She is a visual artist and filmmaker, and studied at the Arts Students League in NYC and in the ateliers of Elizabeth J. Rockey, Bill Weltman, Harry Hamlin, and Roger Mendes. She is represented by Daniel Young & Co. in the UK. Her work is in both private and corporate collections. She holds a B.S. (Engineering/Arabic) from West Point and an M.B.A. (Management--Executive Program) from New York University. She is a veteran of the nuclear Cold War and the first Gulf War.

Project: Greeting the Muse: A Voyage of Exploring the Behavior, Motif Structures, & Potentialities of Rule 1599 (1 Dimension, 3-Color Totalistic)

The scope of this project involved a series of experiments in both pure NKS and visual art focusing on the behavior and structures of NKS rule 1599, a totalistic 3-color, 1D cellular automaton (CA). An automated search utilized Mathematica to search for four basic behaviors of rule 1599 under 18,439 specified initial conditions at 300 steps.

The behavior categories were: those that died within the first initial steps; those that resolved into two different single persistent structures ("ladybugs" and "tracks"); and those that were potentially interesting. A visual survey of the 13,832 interesting specified conditions showed three major readily observable recurring motif subcomponent structures: multiple persistent structures ("ladybugs+," "Indian earrings," and "diadems"). There were also two other categories of substructures that held out to 5000 steps: infrequent but interesting ("cold babushka," "grey triangle," "lobster head"--which looks remarkably like the Chrysler building, and "hooked fish"); and lesser indeterminants. These lesser indeterminants as well as the experiments on behavior under random conditions appear to show intriguing smaller subcomponent pattern elements.

Given these experiments in 1D, there emerged questions regarding the artistic challenge of exploring these patterns and structures in the universe story space of 3D. A series of different 3D graphics demonstrated that there are a multitude of ways of visualizing these CAs. Strikingly, this presented an aesthetic challenge akin to Picasso and Dali exploring implications of 4D with Einstein--how do we as practicing contemporary artists explore and express the computational universe?

Two art experiments took up this challenge: a series of abstract explorations in acrylics based upon simple rules, and a short film experiment of those paintings filmed within the constraints of Dogme 95 simple rules ("Oath of Chastity") to the rhythm and music of Katarina Miljkovic's Rule 41, Turing Machine and 1599. The results of the experimental process point to a potential new visual vocabulary rich for future exploration, as well as an NKS Way of Art that combines experimentation and a humility of irreducibility, where the artist becomes part of the simple rule, seeking the essence and that coalescing moment of self-evidence that cascades new meanings. Discovery and emergence become part of the artistic process.

In terms of art, the next challenge beckons: how does one experience CAs synaesthetically?

Favorite Two-Color, Radius-2 Rule

Rule chosen: 4410

I found it interesting because of its non-symmetry, and the directional growth of the persistent structures and periodic background, which I had not seen before. It appears that the persistent structures continue out at least toward step 1500. After 40 steps, when we partition the last column into groups of 40, they are all the same. Interestingly enough this was not visually apparent. We had to conduct analysis to find its periodicity.