Digital – the generative system
One of the key principles of my usual generative works is a study of randomness and noise. Most of the pieces start with random impulses, which are later reinterpreted due to a pre-coded set of rules, to produce new, surprising results in every run of a program. I try to create an impression of a living thing by controlling chaotic signals in a logical way. It means that random numbers are the seeds for the work, making their existence alive and organic.
In CTRL_DAT my goal was to involve date and time into the creative process. I wanted to try to control the results in a long time range, with surprising, but also predictable outcome. I decided to design and code a year-long sequence of unrepeatable results that changes every minute.
First I picked 70 7-segment shapes:
...and then generated all symmetrical A/B patterns of 7×3 grid (there are 127 of them).
Using a pair of the shapes (but not the same) gave me over 600 000 possible combinations. The challenge was then to put them in such an order so they didn’t repeat. My initial idea was to store all already shown compositions and just avoid them, but then the first limitation appeared – the memory of the controller (32KB). I had to minimize the use of it, so I decided to divide all of the possible A×B×C combinations (70×70×128) to sectors of 10×10×16, which let me cover the number of minutes in a day (1440) for 392 days.
I needed a seperate path generator for a 3D array of 10×10×16, that followed the rules: it had to cover all of the points, and in every step it could move only in one direction. The generated path turned out to be the unique key I was looking for, distinctive for every sculpture. It means that every sculpture repeats its own daily path, but every day using a different set of shapes and patterns. Also, the order of shapes and patterns shuffles after every reconnection of power.
The sculpture operates in 2 modes: as a timer or as a clock. The bottom row of the display is the time indicator in DDDHHMM format (DDD is a sum of days in a year). You can switch between the modes by pressing the button on the back. By holding the button you can restart the timer or update the clock. The full instruction is printed, signed and attachted to the sculpture.