Death of an Alchemist

Bringing together the genre of period murder mystery, with generative text, cut-ups and web scraping this project creates a large scale projected immersive narrative.

A project in collaboration with: Chris Rodley

Death of an Alchemist is a novel written with data: a literary narrative generated in real time from online information. In the story, a present-day narrator logs onto the Internet to investigate the death of Johannes Trithemius, a German abbot and alchemist who died in 1516 and left behind a mysterious book, The Steganographia, containing hidden secrets of the universe disguised in code. The work consists of a wall of projected text and symbols generated by scraping a range of online data sources for news headlines, social media posts, gifs, memes and more. As the text updates with each new piece of data received, readers are invited to follow the clues to unravel the mystery and discover who killed Trithemius and why.

We got a nice call-out in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Death of an Alchemist installed across a 32:9 screen (2023)


Credits and Attribution

This project was exhibited in two international shows: the Electronic Literature Organization “Interventions” exhibition in Bergen, Norway and the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) “New Text” show in Vancouver, Canada.

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