A Bit in the Abyss

Author(s): Matthew Battles, Krystelle Denis, Jessica Yurkofsky, Cris Magliozzi, Marshall Lambert, Sarah Newman
Date: 2015
An installation at the Illuminus Festival in Boston that created an infinite server room within a shipping container; viewers could hear the expanding data of the growing internet overlaid on sounds produced by the cosmos.
What does all the data we're producing look, feel, and sound like?
How might human-produced data be in dialogue with cosmic background radiation? Where does the human belong in this space?

A Bit in the Abyss is an art installation created by metaLAB for the Illuminus Festival in Boston in the Fall of 2015. Within a 10’x10’ shipping container, we created a mirrored room, creating the illusion of infinite space. In the middle of the room stood a “server tower” with blinking LED lights that were programmed to represent the growth of the internet since it’s conception (based on the number of web hosts). When the lights are very faint, the room appears almost as a star-field in outer space. As the internet “grows”, the lights become more and more intense, giving the appearance of an infinite room of server towers. There is also a soundtrack, in sync with the server lights, that corresponds to the growth of the internet. The sounds were produced on the shipping container itself (human-produced data, so to speak,) and then sonified to the arc of growth of the internet; the other sound element is recordings of cosmic background radiation over which the human-produced sounds are overlaid. The piece addresses the dialogue, contrast, and sometimes contest, between the data of the universe and the data that we humans are producing. The installation is at times soothing and mesmerizing, at other times it is jarring and disorienting. The question of where the human body belongs in this massive field of data remains an open question.


Illuminus Boston, Eagle Leasing Company

What's it made with:
Shipping container, metal sculpture, arduino, led lights, sound recordings, internet growth data, cosmic background radiation (sounds)