An experiment into alternate channels of information delivery and retrieval.
Ever since Johannes Gutenberg invented the mechanical printing press mankind has lived with an abundance of information. Entering the information age we have all come to experience to some degree what Alvin Toffler popularly introduced as "Information Overload". Or as Clay Shirky would say "It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure". Either way the information available to us today is vast and the tools we use to analyse it inadequate. Technologies such as search engines, widgets and RSS offer us a taste of how an incomprehensible mass of information can be efficiently accessed and tailored to our requirements but still fall short of the optimum or preferred experience. My project, Datacubes, is not intended as a solution to this problem but instead an experiment as to how information could one day be condensed and offered through new methods and technologies.
The installation itself consists of 9 custom made 50% light transmission acrylic cubes arranged in a 3x3 grid and measures in at 0.9m x 0.9m x 0.3m. Connected to each of these cubes is a heatsinked Philips Luxeon Star 1W LED driven by a relay array, which is in turn controlled by an Arduino micro-controller. Furthermore the Arduino, via a serial proxy, is directly controlled from Adobe Flash, which analyses and processes the data from any 3 given news organisations through their 'World' RSS feeds, and activates the LED's accordingly.
'On the Fly' Display
Each news headline from a given source within a 24 hour period (usually around 30) is analysed, given a positive, negative or neutral value and the installation activated accordingly. For example if story 1 is negative then story 2 and 3 neutral then the sequence will be red, green, green. This concept can also be customised to the individual user by replacing the negative and positive aspects with pre-defined keywords. For example assigning "US" to blue and "Iran" to red, the installation would flash mostly straight green only flicking left or right to another colour with a frequency depending on the media's coverage of these two keywords. It's this concept for delivering a mass of textual information in an ambient visual manner while keeping the experience salient which is key to this work.
The same concept of assessing the positivity or negativity of individual news sources around the world (or users keywords) but keeping the light fixed to receive a summation of that networks content.
Analysing information or indeed a method of information delivery semiotically can provide a much more in-depth look at how such a system would operate. For example analysing the semantic, syntactical and empirical nature of a system/method of information delivery such as the Datacubes project can shed light on its potential for further experimentation.Analysing information or indeed a method of information delivery semiotically can provide a much more in-depth look at how such a system would operate. For example analysing the semantic, syntactical and empirical nature of a system/method of information delivery such as the Datacubes project can shed light on its potential for further experimentation.
The study of the link between symbols and their referents or concepts
Semantically speaking the Datacubes installation has 9 symbols, which reference the keywords (or groups of different keywords) found in global news headlines. These headlines are taken from the "World" news feeds of leading news organisations from the top 3 "Alpha Cities", New York, London and Tokyo.
Empirics is devoted to the study of communication channels and their characteristics, e.g., sound, light, electronic transmission etc.
Here the key communications channel is obviously light, specifically the filtering, colour and frequency of that light. It was a conscious decision to incase and diffuse the light into translucent cubes, this was in order to create a solid block of light that could be both clearly and conformably understood. Colour is a key method of communication and plays on the natural/cultural weight applied to colour, for instance the tendency to associate the colour red with negativity (blood, aggression, bank statements). Lastly the frequency of light pulses is used to communicate a false, humanistic sense of progression through each news headlines as if the viewer were assimilating information at a superhuman rate. This progression has been artificially created as a standard computer can process 100 news headlines near enough instantaneously.