More than just a cover: the story behind this year’s Annual

For this year’s Annual cover, Minivegas created an A out of
every story and image from the CR Blog over the past year

Our Annual cover each year is based on a different treatment of the letter ‘A’. In 2010, Craig Ward grew the shape out of thousands of pollen cells in an immunology lab. This time, Minivegas, of Nexus Interactive Arts, have, literally, drawn inspiration from our website.

“We decided to make an A from CR’s prolific online output,” they say. “We felt that its form should be implied, discernable by its physical influence on elements from CR’s blog and Twitter content. Some of our early efforts were a little abstract, but we settled for wrapping thousands of strips of tape in the loose shape of the ‘A’. The strips would contain words and pictures from the blog.

“Using recent blog activity doesn’t really cut it for an annual, so with a little ‘Wget magic’ [a computer programme that retrieves content from web servers], we slurped every article and image from the last year,” they explain. “We got 10,000 unique proper names and places, hashtags and usernames, and about another 5,000 pictures. That’s a lot, even for six images, so the number of comments on a blog post became a metric for how ‘big’ a story and its content ended up in the final image.

“To add some dynamics, we ran the scene as a cloth simulation to blow our strips around a bit. Exploding the letter is fun, though in the end the shapes looked a bit messy so we toned that down a bit. Final snapshots of strips in motion were exported for a high-quality render.”

We’ve chosen two of the renders as our cover images for the issue, but readers can have a go themselves by downloading the app from our website,


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