The Algorithmic Writing of Stones: A Cybernetics of Geology


In his classic work of lithic scrying, The Writing of Stones, Roger Caillois suggests that the pareidoliac’s interpretation of a stone’s pattern depends upon her own personal internalized database of stored images, a database defined by the cultural stock of mediated imagery forged and embellished by personal memory, emotion and psychical topography. For Caillois, “the vision the eye records is always impoverished and uncertain. Imagination fills it with the treasures of memory and knowledge.” Caillois’s own database was one defined in a pre-digitized, barely computerized world. His meditations on Agates, Jaspers and Septaria evoked for him a world of grotesque pathologies, fantastic creatures and mythological landscapes devoid of digital allusions. Like the results of a Rorschach test, the imagery he conjured reveals the emotive secrets hidden in the recesses of his own mind. A post-digital re-reading of his stones might invoke entirely new kinds of narratives. By reinterpreting Caillois’s stones in relation to the aesthetics of digital simulation, algorithmic visualization can be used as decryption device to decode and unravel new fictions.

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