Southern Wind Algorist

TC Zhou


Photo by DMA alum Don Edler

What is it like to immerse oneself in the classical Chinese gay literary tradition? This piece seeks to explore that question through a unique fusion of nine algorithms with nine southern wind stories from the late imperial era of China (Ming and Qing dynasties). In Chinese culture, the term "southern wind" (南風) is often associated with male homosexuality. Chinese writers frequently employed the use of the number nine and its multiples, such as 72, 81, and 108, to signify a large quantity of something, akin to the Monkey King's 72 transformations. Additionally, the number nine holds the connotation of permanence within Chinese tradition. In this context, the choice of nine symbolizes my hope for the complete understanding, acceptance, and integration of male homosexuality as an enduring element in future cultures.

This work contributes to fostering a sense of cultural belonging for the gay/queer community. It highlights three prevailing themes of love: devotion, exploration, and suffering. The algorithms and stories are thoughtfully organized into three distinct groups, each representing one of these themes.

Photo by DMA alum Don Edler

Group: Devotion


(1) strange attractor

(2) dynamical simulation

(3) reaction-diffusion


(1) The Stones Nodded Assent: Story fourteen - Pan Wenzi Is Matched with Another in the Lover's Tombs 石點頭:第十四回・潘文子契合鴛鴦塚

(2) Caps with Hairpins: Chaste Love 弁而釵:情貞記

(3) Liaozhai's Records of the Strange: Huang Jiulang 聊齋志異:黃九郎

Location: UCLA New Wight Gallery, Photo by DMA event photographer Lauren Villanueva

Group: Exploration


(1) flocking

(2) Penrose tiling

(3) metaballs


(1) Peach Blossom Shadows: Story six - A Drunken Fish Is Robbed of Its Rear Courtyard Flower 桃花影:第六回・後庭花強捉醉魚

(2) A Precious Mirror for Grading Flowers: Preface, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 品花寶鑒:序、第一回、第二回、第三回

(3) The Forgotten Tales of Longyang: Story one - Several Episodes Tossing Away Strings of Cash to Catch Turtles with Shrimp, One Drunken Night at a Red Mansion a Willow Twig is Threaded with Fish 龍陽逸史:第一回・揮白鏹幾番蝦釣鱉 醉紅樓一夜柳穿魚

Group: Suffering


(1) game of life

(2) 10 PRINT

(3) Voronoi diagram


(1) Caps with Hairpins: Marvelous Love 弁而釵:情奇記

(2) Fragrant Beauty Inspiring Ardor: The Moon Part 宜春香質:月集

(3) Silent Opera: Story six - A Male 'Mother of Mencius' Educates his Son and Moves House Three Times 無聲戲:第六回・男孟母教合三遷

Reference: Stevenson, M., & Wu, C. (Eds.). (2012). Homoeroticism in Imperial China: A Sourcebook (1st ed.). Routledge.

Note: An algorist is someone who makes art with algorithms. 

Full Stories (EN & CN) PDF

If you are somewhat gay and work with computer graphics, this work is for you.