Medium: Custom Electronics, Incandescent Lights
Dimensions: Scalable within 30’ x 10’ x 6’ (length, height, depth in feet)
“Entity – I” is an interactive light and sound installation that explores the aesthetics of networked forms inspired by neural networks. Composed of custom circuitry that closely models the electrical characteristics of neurons, the work is situated at the intersection of art and science, dramatizing the electronic information systems of biological entities by depicting neurological activity as an electrical storm. Neural networks, which are most frequently simulated within digital environments, are explored as a sculptural and distinctly physical, interactive, delicate and sensitive phenomenon.
Suspended from the ceiling is a hand-made electronic network, a web formed from many interconnected elements. Delicate control electronics and incandescent light bulbs are spun together into a thick cable of artificial neurological tissue. Each string of lights is part of a single electronic neuron that ignites from one end to the other when stimulated by light or sound. Sensors at the end of each neuron feel changes in the environment and a signal is transmitted in a cascade of rippling light and sound along the connected cord of light bulbs. Mechanical relays used to control the flashes of light produce cicada-like hissing sounds, invoking the sound of insects nervously vocalizing in the night air in advance of a looming thunderstorm. With many elements participating in this seemingly simple transfer of electronic signals, the effect of many networked elements is multiplied, invading the space in which the installation is situated, creating an immersive environment. The resulting generative and rhythmic patterns of flickering of light and insect-like pulses of sound envelope the viewer’s senses, bathing them in an electrical storm of neural activity. The architecture of the network, the state of its environment, and viewer interaction influence the rhythmic patterns of information transmitted along the artificial neurological tissue.
The nature of interaction is extremely simple. Light, Temperature and Sound will cause certain sensitive neurons to trigger and transmit flashes of light to connected neurons, and because of their interconnected nature, the whole network’s behavior is influenced. Individuals can sing or speak to the installation and block light with their hands to interact with the work. Simply by being present in the room, they influence ambient temperatures, thereby subtly alter the resulting way signals are generated and passed along the network of artificial neurons. New constellations are formed and broken as light races around unpredictable circuits. Visitors become agents of simulated biological information, their presence encoded like neurotransmitters, mediating and recontextualizing a machine’s search for meaning in its artificial, electrified life.