Nathan Mifsud


An ode to the sand reckoner

Death of Archimedes, 1815, Thomas Degeorge

Myriad” is a kinetic poem that appears in Taper, which publishes computational poetry and literary art whose code is no more than a tiny 2048 bytes.

My artist statement:

Archimedes used exponentiation to calculate how much sand could be contained by the universe. In his time, numbers were intertwined with creation, so naming large numbers was said to vest you with power over nature. Yet 10^63 was not enough for him to escape the hands of men.

Visually, each line of the poem is formatted to evoke a “tower of powers” (nested exponents) with the words coloured and scattered like grains of sand. The duration of each iteration is two minutes, so the script will produce an amount of DOM sand equivalent to Archimedes’s calculations if left running for about 10^57 years.

You can read the poem here.