Radical of the Vertical Heart 忄

Daniel Howe

Radical of the Vertical Heart 忄 (2019)

The newest in the Atomic Language Machines series, this reading machine searches the the Chinese lexicon by repeatedly making the minimal allowable change to the sub-character components of characters. Rather than evaluating letters, as in alphabetic machines, this logographic reader analyses the strokes, radicals, and subcomponents of characters. When the machine lands on sensitive words, such as those disallowed by China's Great Firewall, a break occurs and the machine jumps from traditional to simplified or vice versa.

In order to realize the work, extensive research was required into the potential decompositions of simplified and traditional Chinese characters, and on the various measures of distance between them, the latter leading to a novel algorithm for logographic edit distance. Radical of the Vertical Heart is the second piece in the Atomic Language Machines series, following Automatype, a machine which traverses the English lexicon via minimum-edit (or Levenshtein) distance.

About the Artist

Daniel C. Howe is a writer and coder whose work focuses on the relationships between networks, language, and politics. His practice explores the impact of computational technologies on human values such as diversity, privacy, and equality. He has been an open-source advocate and contributor to dozens of socially-engaged software projects over the past two decades, with outputs including software interventions, art installations, algorithmically-generated text and sound, and natural language tools for artists.