October 2, 2012

A Picture Worth 11,739 Words

A picture worth 11,739 words

This afternoon, I was playing around with some images, glitching them up through a hex editor, because sometimes that's what I do during my downtime at work. Those who recognize the screenshot as Spiceworks will probably guess what I should have been doing while I was creating this image. While modifying the code, I began drifting into thought. I began wondering what, deep into this image's code within which I was working, was this image trying to say, beyond that of the product of a typical image viewer?

So I removed myself from the hex editor, and tried a text editor. Well, we all know that the text editor will display a bunch of gibberish, since looking at the code of such a file is not really the text editor's job. Okay, I understand that.

So here's what I did next:

1) Changed the character encoding of what the text editor (in this case: Word) presented into Chinese.
2) Copied the Chinese characters into Google translator, and translated into English.
3) Copied the now-English text back into the text editor.
4) Ran a spell check, making every suggested change along the way.

The result is here in .pdf format: CAPTURE.PDF

What began as gibberish is now 11,739 words, most of which are readable to some degree. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this text:

"and obesity have been implicated with premature failure of the implant by loosening, fracture"
"throwing the world the sobbing tender"
"Beam roars me? Radiance of fire, the petal"
"Song s? Naked? The Run violence?"
"the defecate + ingot official pay the Hour Ling F * N, few paid"
"Complain? 0 species of bamboo"
"executive irresolute Shang trafficking curse? earn?"

are among many others.

Try this on your own, with a variety of images. Look for stories unfolding within.

Find out exactly, and in how many words, the worth of your picture.



  1. I just did a spell-check exercise with my cybertext students at NJIT. A useful way to transform milk into milk!

  2. Now I'm udderly intrigued. Does "milk" become the "heat death" of spellchecker? The word in the lowest, alphabetical, energy state?


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