A Bit in the Abyss at Illuminus Boston

Matthew Battles
Krystelle Denis
Sarah Newman
Melissa Marshall
Jessica Yurkofsky
October 2015

Fenway Park

Illuminus Boston

For Illuminus Boston, A Bit in the Abyss consists of a digital storage server in a small shipping container, similar to those used by the Internet Archive for storing the scanned, hard-copy source media they acquire.

As data are accessed, their processing is sonified to represent the growth of server hosts spanning from the origins of the internet to the present. Within the container, mirrors reflect the server’s blinking indicator lights in all directions.

Audience members enter the container in small groups to experience the prismatic effects of light and sound produced therein. The design of the project makes use of the “Droste Effect,” which occurs when images are reflected among multiple mirrors to create the impression of an infinite series.

The effect is also called mise-en-abyme, a French phrase, which translates as “to place in the abyss.” The phrase evokes the existential condition of information storage: as we digitize recorded knowledge, it falls into a virtual abyss of abstraction. - Excerpt from metaLAB


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