Manuel Abendroth, Jerome Decock, Els Vermang
Size: ø: 3.40 m * h: 1.8 m
Technique: aluminium, 512 split-flaps, custom tailored electronics, 1 computer, generative software
Signal To Noise consists of a 3.40 m circular aluminium structure, containing 4 horizontal rows of 128 split-flap displays at eye height. The circular structure is subdivided into eight modules, which are assembled to constitute a ring of 512 split-flaps in total. The inside ring displays the characters of the alpha-numeric displays. The outside ring exposes the stripped technology: driver boards and the array of small, surface mounted LED’s. These display the characters of the alpha-numeric displays in form of a visual Morse code. The installation is a hybrid between digital and analogue technology based on mechanics. In order to enter the installation the spectator has to bow, underlining the act of engagement, prior to being immersed in patterns of sonic motion while simultaneously exposed to the sense and non-sense of the displayed information.
The split-flaps are ready-mades from the pre-digital jet age whose sequential operating mode has shaped our imagination of information flow and global mobility. Unfortunately, this technology has nowadays almost entirely disappeared from the public realm. The installation recalls the sonic qualities and its iconic aesthetics based on generative digital processes. The process produces a continuous flow of sonic and visual information, which bears witness albeit partially, though still coherent to the actual ‘globalised’ state of our world and its increasing information saturation.
The expression ‘signal-to-noise’ is a measure used to quantify how much a signal has been lost to noise; it’s a ratio of useful to un-useful information in data transmission. The installation title is thus as much borrowed from the realm of sound as from information theory. The signal is silence (standstill) while noise is represented by one of the rotating split-flaps. The split-flaps are spinning on a variable speed, depending on the processing limitations of the underlying algorithm as it analyses the maze of information for the appearance of a word-equal-meaning. Once coincidentally, an English word of three letters or more recognized from its dictionary is formed, the corresponding split-flaps stand still for several iterations, altering the overall rhythmic pattern.
The random flow of comprehensible words confronts the visitor with the infinite appearance of words, significations and associations. The aim is not to deliver a limited amount of possibilities equalling a single messages, but to provide endless emergence. The circular installation invites the visitor to plunge into an audio-visual composition within the centre of the calculation processes of an auto-poetic machine.
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