It's the Era of Automation! We automate everything from manufacturing, to financial transactions, to blog updates. So why not automate creativity as well? Okay, that sounds horrible, but there is something fascinating about pre-configured, automatic processes that produce beautiful and seemingly random results.
Otomata, a musical webtoy from self-described computational sound artist Batuhan Bozkurt, is one such project. Somewhat similar to iNudge from a few years ago, Otomata lets you use a few moving, colliding "cells" to create musical compositions that approach infinity in length.
Click a cell on the square grid to activate it; click it again to change the direction it will move. Click [spacebar], or click the play/pause button to start or stop the composition. You can always add more to your piece, or clear the grid and start anew. When cells hit a wall, they produce a defined pitch, depending on what part of the grid they are in. When they collide with each other, they rotate clockwise and proceed in a new direction. If you can get two cells to overlap and move in the same direction, you can also creating rotating oscillators, which interact with the composition in interesting ways.
Depending on how you start your composition, you can either create regular repeating patterns, or patterns that subtly shift in interesting ways. It can be difficult to predict how a given setup will act, but that is part of the joy of Otomata. According to the developer, these patterns could spin out for billions of years without repetition, and like Fractal images, it is amazing that something of such aesthetic complexity can be generated from a few simple parameters. It also helps that the music is invariably interesting, as the developer selected his pitches such that even the crudest musical talent can produce something cool.
One more thing: You can also click the "Copy piece link" button to copy a URL of your music into your clipboard, so you can paste it anywhere you want to share it. Play Otomata, then paste your creation in the comments section below and show your genius to your fellow JIG readers.