Aurator is a online public engagement platform masterminded by science storyteller Britt Wray and scientist and media producer Nadja Oertelt.

At the core of Aurator is a set of audio diaries from seven leading practitioners in the field of synthetic biology. The diaries delve into the broad range of questions posed by the field of synthetic biology: questions of ethics, politics, business, art.

We wanted the audio to drive something more than just the subtitles.

We were already familiar with fractal equations from our earlier work on the Open Orchestra. It was a quick jump for us from Sierpinksi carpets to L-Systems.

L-systems are a set of recursive rules and symbols developed in the late sixties by biologists seeking to synthesize the growth processes of simple organisms like algae. It seemed like magic that a simple set of signs and symbols (X → F−[[X]+X]+F[+FX]−X), (F → FF) could endlessly draw a plant, or crystal, or anything for that matter. We harnessed this algorithm to procedurally create expressive visuals to accompany the audio tracks.

Under all this lies a commenting system that allows listeners to input text and audio at any point within a diary, echoing a fractalized SoundCloud. The public can also input their own diaries in the Public Voices section of Aurator, which in turn form the foundation for ongoing discussion, in a recursive process not unlike the L-systems described above.