Four Letter Words

April 24, 2010

Robert Seward‘s LED artwork ‘Four Letter Words’ just grabbed my attention few minutes ago. It’s his latest work based on Arduino, and I find it rather interesting because of the whole construction complexity… and e-typography approach…


‘Four Letter Words consists of four units, each capable of displaying all 26 letters of the alphabet with an arrangement of fluorescent lights.’

‘The piece displays an algorithmically generated word sequence derived from a word association database developed by the University of South Florida between 1973 and 1998. The algorithms take into account word meaning, rhyme, letter sequencing, and association.’

‘The algorithm’s tendency towards scatological or “dark” subject matter is influenced by a variety of language and perception studies, especially Elliot McGinnies’ 1949 study Emotionality and Perceptual Defense.’

‘While the piece was conceived with idea of displaying algorithmically generated lists, it was designed with flexibility and expandability in mind. The individual units can be connected ad-infinitum, and are theoretically capable of displaying any length of text. While Four Letter Words deals with a specific range of content, the technology can be easily expanded for future textual experiments.’

Read Rob Seward’s working processes while working on ‘Four Letter Words’ could be found here

Rob Seward is an artist and programmer. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. He has lectured at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Columbia University; and Location One, both in New York. He holds a master’s from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Before getting his master’s, he worked in collaboration with composer Fred Lerdahl creating software based on the Generative Theory of Tonal Music. Rob lives and works in New York City. (bio taken from the official site)

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