Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Artist, writer, philologist
Sydney, Australia

I am interested in applications of mathematics to literature. This realm is sometimes called ‘combinatorial poetry’ though not just combinatorial methods are applied to texts, and not just to poetry. Visual representation of these texts provides the most obvious results.
“Magic word square” is a matrix with a letter in each cell so that meaningful words can be read by every line in any direction. The presented “magic cube” is an impossible figure where two cubes looking in different directions are united. Magic words' squares are written on each face of this cube. A special print type was developed, so that the letters transform into each other making words when the figure is turned over itself: a <–> u, b <–> e, c <–> d and so on. To find the appropriate words amongst the three-letters’ English words that allow the transformation, a computer program was written, and another one for listing a set of words for a particular magic square. One of these cubes is shown on the picture.

Magic cubes
Magic cubes
7.9" X 9.8"
computer graphics

On five visible faces of this impossible cube three magic words' squares are presented. Proper names, abbreviations or dialects are allowed. For this type the letters ‘U’ and ‘V’ are not visually distinguished, as well as letters ‘A’ and ‘N’. As the result, on the central face, the words ‘SOS’, ‘OXO’ ‘MOM are written by horizontal lines and ‘SOM’, ‘OXO’, ‘SOM’ – by the verticals, transforming when rotated by 180 degrees into words ‘WOW’, ‘OXO’ and ‘SOS’ by horizontals and ‘WOS’, ‘OXO’, ‘WOS’ by verticals. On the side faces, the words ‘WHO’, ‘HAH’, ‘OHM’ are written on horizontal lines as well as by verticals, transforming into themselves when rotated. On the upper and lower faces, the words ‘BUS’, ‘AVA’, ‘CAM’ are written by horizontals and ‘BAC’, UVA’ and ‘SAM’ by verticals transforming into ‘WUD’, ‘UNU’, ‘SAE’ and ‘WUS’, ‘UNA’ and ‘DUE’ respectively. On the faces invisible to observer, there are more magic squares chosen from approximately 400 found versions.