week 4: computarot


I had a difficult time coming up with a concept for a kind of electronic cleromancy. I think at first I was really attached to the idea of a physical deck and found it hard to remove myself from the idea of physical cards being flipped over. I wanted to continue a previous line of thought about computation as metaphor and wanted to find a way to further uncover what my computer is and what it is actually doing when I am using it.

After downloading Darius Kazemi’s JSON tarot interpretations file I spent a long time just parsing through it using javascript. I wanted to do this as a way to kind of meditate on the cards with my computer - something similar to a shuffle but more like just holding the set of cards in my hand and just looking at them and then maybe re-ordering them unintentionally.

Finally I decided to write a bash script that would randomly choose three cards, or in this case objects, from the 78 available cards in the JSON array. The script would then take the keywords from each chosen card and search my computer’s file system for documents that contained that word. To avoid huge lists of files and permissions issues I decided to only search within my root directory. Also to avoid extremely long lists of files the script only returns the first three files that it finds. For each card found the script subsequently creates a folder. The keyword for each card then creates a subfolder in which the found files are copied into.

I think there is a lot of potential for complexity with this project. I can imagine scripting different kinds of spreads which maybe would affect how the finder windows open and layer over each other. I can also imaging parsing the found files and pulling out the text containing the given keywords to make new computer generated cards. Maybe there would also be images that are pulled down by keyword or by their meaning from the web (I tried to do this early on but could not get past the google image api docs:().

You can find the code for this project here to run it own your own system.