Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Etan Ilfeld

Summer School

Class of 2009


Etan Ilfeld double majored in mathematics and physics at Stanford University, and has since added to his eclectic education a master’s in film from the University of Southern California, and a master’s in interactive media from Goldsmiths, University of London.

He is the founder of Tenderpixel, a cutting-edge idea-driven art gallery in London. He is particularly interested in the intersections of art, technology, and media. He is also a passionate chess player.

Project: Aesthetic Form Generation Using 2D Cellular Automata

This project synthesizes interests in technology, art, and media: the rule-space of 2D cellular automata will be explored in terms of form generation. By experimenting with the aesthetic potential of the 2D CA rule space, this project will search for possible rules that tend to “pass” some sort of “aesthetic metric” when applied to human-generated representational images. This exploration will begin by applying Mathematica’s Binarize to an image, followed by creating a more detailed mesh—thereby “magnifying” the image data (as suggested by Stephen Wolfram), and allowing a 2D CA to evolve.

Possible manifestations include the creation of new fonts and logos using NKS, and even NKS-generated animations (e.g. title design for intro credits in a film). While researching the aesthetic potential of 2D CAs, considerations will be given to behavior based on the types of rules (e.g. reversible, irreversible, Wolfram types, symmetric). Additionally, it is hoped that this project will generate a methodology with which visually enticing simple rules can be collected, which may prove highly useful for media and the arts.

Favorite Three-Color Cellular Automaton

Rule 68526663 and Rule 3385977523643