January 1, 2021

Introducing Ayin Beta

By Ayin Press

Ayin Beta is a new platform for digital art and games. 

Beta, or bet, is the second letter of both the Greek and Hebrew alphabet /aleph-bet. In Hebrew, bet is a preposition, meaning “in”; it is, famously, the first letter of the Bible: Be’reisheet, “In the [process of] beginning.”1 Additionally, the Kabbalists tell us that the bet of “in the beginning” signifies that worlds have been made and destroyed before; we are not meant to know of those worlds, which is why the letter only opens on one side, the side from which all future text flows. The name of the letter is also a version of the word for house in Hebrew, bayt or bayit, defining the bounds of inside and outside, a site of construction and deconstruction. Bet contains and cultivates all of these meanings within itself, signifying the dynamic relationship between creativity, structure, and consciousness.2 

In the tech world, beta refers to a particular stage in the development of a prototype. After the “alpha”—the first iteration of a product, which is only shared internally (just like the worlds that came before the bet of be’reisheet were hidden)—comes the “beta”: the first iteration released to the public, a kind of test version, imperfect and in process. In the beta phase, the focus is on finding and fixing bugs, and other critical issues, before launch. Playtesting a game in beta is a method of quality control that is integral to the design process. Users play unfinished versions of a game to work out flaws, and most importantly to make sure the game is fun.

Ayin Beta3 opens up a realm to explore the future of the book through digital and interactive art, games, emerging technology, and AI. Telling new stories, beta-testing new worlds. 

We are currently accepting submissions of digital art, including games, generative art, and creative explorations of code. 

This platform is devised and co-curated with artist Ariel Abrahams


Footnotes

  1. Rashi notes that the bet of “in the beginning” does not signify the start of the creation of the world, but rather that the beginning had already begun. See Sefaria, Genesis 1 with Rashi’s commentary, Genesis 1:1 (“בראשית ברא In the beginning God created”): “The text does not intend to point out the order of the acts of Creation — to state that these (heaven and earth) were created first; for if it intended to point this out, it should have written ‘בראשונה ברא את השמים וגו ‘At first God created etc.’” 
  2. Be’reisheet” contains the word “rosh,” head, between the letters that form the word “bayt” (bet and taf), further symbolizing the way consciousness is our essential “home.” 
  3. In Hebrew, the letters ayin and bet together, עב, means thick and/or dense, and is used in ancient literature to refer to dark clouds and thickets, sites of mystery, power, and refuge. See concordance listings at Bible Hub, “ab,” https://biblehub.com/hebrew/5645.htm.