This Synthesizer Uses Conway’s Game of Life to Generate Tones

John Horton Conway’s Game of Life, originally devised in 1970, isn’t really a game at all. It’s actually a zero-player cellular automation simulation. The “game” consists of an infinite two-dimensional grid, and the only input from the player comes before the simulation starts. During setup, they can place cells on the grid in whatever positions they like. Once the simulation starts, the cells follow a consistent set of rules to live, die, or reproduce. Love Hultén is a Swedish artist who has built a synthesizer called Evoboxx that generates tones based on the Game of Life.

Cells in the Game of Life follow four simple rules: if they have too few neighbors they die, if they have too many neighbors they die, if they have an ideal number of neighbors they live, and a cluster with the right number of cells can reproduce. The simulation simply continues indefinitely until all of the cells have died or a stable population has been created. The Game of Life is intended to illustrate how complex patterns can emerge by evolving out of very simple rules. Hultén is using that idea as the basis for sound synthesis in order to create unique auditory patterns.

The Evoboxx is a device for accomplishing that. Housed within its custom folding wood enclosure is a Raspberry Pi 3+, a mono speaker, an 8″ LCD screen, and the input controls. Those controls are four knobs and a large trackball, and are used both to setup the initial cells in the Game of Life as well the way sounds are generated. After setup, the simulation is started and tones are synthesized based on the states of the various cells. Because this is a zero-player game, those sounds are the result of initial cell patterns and the rules the cells must follow, which makes them unique.

This Synthesizer Uses Conway’s Game of Life to Generate Tones was originally published in Hackster Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original article: This Synthesizer Uses Conway’s Game of Life to Generate Tones
Author: Cameron Coward