11 .30.2009

Arts130 Digital Visual Culture



In 1980 and 1990's the Department of Energy gathered experts (astronomers, physicists, artists, humanists, philosophers, etc.) to discuss how to communicate into the future to humans that a site is dangerous due to radioactive waste with lifespans of 10000 to 25000 years. This time period is more then double then the existence of human post-neolithic civilization.

The challenge involves creating markers, signs, or communicating in some way into the future, given that our cultural communication continuously changes, and with time and distance, legibility degrades. Its very hard to read a 1000 years old text, and we have no idea as to the functions of cave paintings from 25000 years.

Propose and describe a sign or site-specific marker for deep time communication into the future to communicate danger at a radioactive site. Your proposal can be visual, or expressive in any form keeping in mind that language changes and that technology is generally short lived.

Project Course References

We began by learning how signs are cultural messages. This was followed by what a digital image is, and how we classifiy and contextualize information. The next set of examples featured various ways that images were used in time, or changed through computational algorithms, or how interactivity works. The final set of examples feature images in space, computers controlled devices, sensors, and we finished by examples of natural phenomena (Kahn), vibration (Fontana), and biological, or bio-tech based projects.

Project Goals

. The goal of the final project is to build on the learning that took place during the course
. Be creative and use your imagination but also do research
. Your proposal is a guess, as who knows how communication will take place 25000 years ago

Project Methods

Keeping in mind the goals of the project, study the examples at the course website to get ideas. Follow with internet searches on the topic, and also on techniques that could be relevant to the assignment. Come up with a concept, describe it and how it can be realized Give references.

Every form of physical energy propagation can be a channel to convey messages
. Optical, chemical acoustic, tactiel, electric, temperature based, etc.
. Human sense can only register limited range of ambient stimuli
. Cannot predict future prostheses - we may have changed our biological structure
. Internal encoded biological messages a possibility
. Process may require redundancy - error correcting methods because information decays over time eventually resulting in total incomprehensibility

Project Details

Your project should consist of 1 web page and include the following:

. A title
. Images
. A Description
. Addtional Details
. References and URL Links


Pandora's Box - Thomas Sebeok - MAT student report
Research Center for Semiotics
Ten Thousand Years of Soliude - Benford

Generic Historical Markers

1995 - WWW Internet - 15 years ago
1988 - Cell Phones - 22 years ago
1982 - Personal Computers
1950 - Television
1945 - Nuclear WarHeads -Radioactive Waste - 55 years ago
1910 - Radio
1910 - Cinema
1880 - Electrical street lights
1860's - Photography
1530 - Oli painting - 480 years ago
1440 - Gutenberg Printing press
1500BC - the alphabet - 350 years ago
3500BC - Invention of the wheel - 5500 years ago
4000BC - Domestication of horse - 6000 years ago
15000BC - Domestication of dogs - 17000 years ago
70000BC - Leaving Africa - about 72000 years ago