Signal to Noise

June 28th, 2002 - August 10th, 2002

Categories: Applications, Human Factors, Multimedia, Sound Art, Tele-Immersion, Video / Film, VR Art, Web Art


signal-to-noise ratio: [from analog electronics] n. Used by hackers in a generalization of its technical meaning. ‘Signal’ refers to useful information conveyed by some communications medium, and ‘noise’ to anything else on that medium.

This exhibition by sine::apsis experiments explores a contemporary fascination with the virtues of noise and the validity of signal. We live in an era where people are tuned into an infinitely splintering array of frequencies (e.g. visual, auditory, pure data, etc.). Science, human curiosity, and cheap digital technology press us into an obsessive recording of every modulation of our life experience. Between those persons monitoring seismic activity to those recording data flows across the Internet to even those at home with a video camera, there is a mind-boggling quantity of raw data generated each minute of the day. And, thanks to digital technology, all of it may be easily stored for reproduction and mining at any time.

This exhibition focuses on current tendencies in how we put a value to this data. How much of the data we generate is true signal and how much of it is pure noise? All told, this exhibition shows how one person’s signal can be another person’s noise and vice versa. Appropriately, the works included in this exhibition explore this valuation phenomenon from many different angles. Some art works point to our society’s dogged quest for signal as a shortsighted endeavor. The word signal here could be substituted by either meaning or truth - in other words, data with a tangible commodity value.

Sabrina Raaf’s “Saturday” forms a uniquely intimate portrait of the community of Humboldt Park, Chicago, through a composite presentation of conversations stolen on Saturdays in the park. Todd Margolis’s piece entitled “Please Adjust” allows participants to manipulate images on a television monitor to create their own aesthetic ranging from minimal ‘signal’ to chaotic ‘noise’.

This exhibition runs concurrently at Artswatch: plugANDplay, June 28th-August 3rd.

sine::apsis experiments members: Kevin Heisner, Daniel Miller, Fernando Orellana, Amy Youngs, Valerie Fuchs, Sabrina Raaf, Andrea Polli, Todd Margolis

Invited artists include: Ben Chang, Thomas DeLisle, Russel Hulsey, Keenan Lawler, Jamie Tittle,Trevor Paglen, Silvia Ruzanka, Chris Sorg, Dmitry Stakovsky

text courtesy Artswatch, in partnership with Swanson Cralle