[Reader-list] Turbulence Commission: "A More Subtle Perplex" by Ben Dean

Turbulence.org turbulence at turbulence.org
Thu Apr 3 09:49:30 CDT 2014

Turbulence Commission: "A More Subtle Perplex" by Ben Dean
[This is an open source project: you can contribute to the "Perplex" here: https://github.com/bd/perplex]

"A More Subtle Perplex" is an experiment in quasi-linguistic formalism, in gibberish. Borrowing and inverting techniques from computer science and analytic linguistics, it blindly strives to produce the outer appearance of language -- to be all form and no content. The "Perplex" produces synthetic languages, or at least their syntactic forms, by writing letters to you. The production of the text and the production of a given language are interdependent.

Like most of Dean's work, this is a serious joke. A lonely robot, desperately seeking to communicate in an endless series of idiolects, or a play on the abstract aesthetics of non-representational painting for a conceptual artist. And, like most of his work, it is a point on a line, or a member of a set -- these examples are not the first, nor will they be the last iterations of the project to make excellent gibberish.

"A More Subtle Perplex" is a 2014 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence website. It was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Ben Dean is a student of symbols and their systems in theory and practice. From the tarot to commercial signage to computer science, he investigates the joints of formal systems and lived experience: the meeting of the logical and the mystagogical. He lives and works in Los Angeles as an artist, computer programmer, and consulting wizard. An always incomplete survey of his work is available at indefiniteways.com.

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