About Tarot Fabula

a shuffled capstone project of tarot card symbolism, story serendipity, and playful potentiality

Tarot Fabula was created in fulfillment of an MA in Digital Humanities at The Graduate Center @ CUNY's fall semester, 2023-2024. This is a research project and website that examines the digital tarot card deck as a unique narrative form, using the digital archives of card decks out of their original context to define and reshape meaning, playfully.

Statistically random reshufflings of tarot decks from archival collections prompt the reader to become a narrative co-creator, drawing them into conversation with traditional reading and interpretive practices as they remix narrative elements portrayed on the cards.

In Tarot Fabula, randomness is both designed and has limitations, utilizing a programmatic solution like the Fisher-Yates shuffling algorithm to shuffle through a limited number of several cards with different designs and similar values.

This project emerged in an era marked by machine learning algorithms, search engines, media recommendation tools, and targeted consumer personalization, which all utilize some controlled and hidden computational determinant. The Tarot Fabula set upends the expectations of an experienced tarot user plainly though it too is using a hidden mechanism to choose its results.

Since their earliest recorded use in the 1400s, tarot cards figure as objects for game play, artistic creativity, spiritual divination, and self-discovery. Tarot Fabula introduces a ludic, interactive website interface that challenges 20th century tarot reading practices as linear narratives.

Drawing on values of minimal computing to support accessibility and sustainability, Tarot Fabula deploys traditional front-end languages (HTML, CSS, vanilla Javascript), and one open source JS library (Micromodal.JS).

Tarot Fabula’s shuffling and reshuffling of cards as historical objects merges contemporary computational methods for generating random results with an interrogation of traditional assumptions of reading, interpreting, and storytelling.

The cards present a mirror that calls attention to the limitations of linear narrative and the opportunities for storytelling we encounter as citizens of an algorithmic age.

In Tarot Fabula, we look to the tarot system's rich past in order to better design our own stories of the future, in the present's era of algorithms and unreliable information. With inspiration from Muñoz's Cruising Utopia and Burgess's Radical Tarot, Tarot Fabula offers a new lens of reading the cards to create and expand narrative potentiality in service of meaning-making.