Fry’s Distellamap is a visualization of the code and data found in a Pac-Man Atari 2600 cartridge, highlighting not only the mathematical instructions, but also the commands that direct jumps to different locations in the program. The project, Fry has explained, is based on “columns of assembly language, most of it either math or conditional statements (if x is true, go to y). Each time there is a ‘go to’ instruction, a curve is drawn from that point to its destination. When a byte of data (as opposed to code) is found in the cartridge, it is shown as an orange row: a solid block for a ‘1’ or a dot for a ‘0.’” Fry’s intent is not to analyze the software but rather to celebrate its elegance with an equally graceful portrait. Distellamap was designed using Processing, an open-source programming language and integrated development environment based on Java language, devised by Fry and Casey Reas. Simple enough to be picked up by nonprogrammers and sophisticated enough to be used for high-level design, architecture, visualization, and animation projects, Processing has had a significant impact as a powerful and inspiring design tool.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014.