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Big Father

Big Father

Simon Penny

An attempt to represent the datasphere by simulating it.

Over the past 20 years, an entirely new global system of digital communication has come into being, comprised of satellite relays, optical fibre and coaxial cables, and computer networks. This augments the already vast global radio traffic. This new phenomenon is referred to as the `datasphere’. Examined as an organism, the datasphere is colonial, in the sense that an ant colony or a marine sponge is colonial. Information is transmitted and recieved between millions of sensor and effector `nodes’ via a distibuted `rhizomatic’ network. Viewed in this way, any electronic information gathering device which is hooked into this system becomes a sense organ of it. These sense organs operate on a vast range of scales, from the galactic (outward looking satellites and ground based observatories), to the global (earth watching satellites), the local (video surveillance systems), the personal (medical imaging technologies) and the microscopic (scanning tunneling electron microscopes). One might even postulate an imagination or dreaming in the form of synthetic computer imagery.

The installation is an attempt to represent this system by simulating it. The visitor is confronted with five indentical, large, vaguely anthropomorphic `stations’ which breathe. Each station individually senses the visitor. The sensing triggers the transmission of audio and video material.

Simon Penny

Simon Penny

Simon Penny is Professor of Arts and Engineering, a joint appointment of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and… more...