‘Grid World’

Alex Miller:

An obsession was born. I was intoxicated by graph paper. The emptiness of a totally blank page intimidated me by demanding that I make the first move, but graph paper invited my participation by steering my pencil in the grooves of its strictly regular lines. The grid was like a friend who had already done half the work for me. I drew mazes, maps, patterns, plans — all held by the sturdiness of the grid. The effect was soothing. Through the grid’s lattice, all my drawings, no matter how primitive, took on an air of rational certainty.

Around the same time that my dad showed me the grid map game, I started using a computer. In our house, down the carpeted stairs, in the basement, there was a light wood desk, upon which sat a beige plastic box with a rainbow striped Apple logo on the front: the Power Macintosh. Through this machine’s chunky, low res monitor, I witnessed a grid come to life. Each pixel was a modular, addressable component in a digital whole. The windows, the buttons, the fonts, the menus, and the icons — oh, the icons! The world of the computer was filled with little hieroglyphic pictures representing folders, files, control panels, and drawing tools, each crisply rendered on the pixel grid of the screen. The logic and aesthetic of the grid permeated the virtual world of the computer — all rational, all peaceful.

This essay hit close to home. As a kid, I too was obsessed both with graph paper and computers, and intuited a deep connection between the two. (Via The HTML Review, another nominee in The Tiny Awards.)

Monday, 17 July 2023