FOUR LETTER WORD MACHINE – 2009 Scottsdale
Forecast ran across this project while researching for its upcoming issue of Public Art Review on innovative technologies in public art.
A detailed description of the project can be found at D.A. Therrien’s web site beautifullight.org and here is a brief overview.
“FOUR LETTER WORD MACHINE displays either 4 letter words in standard Roman alphabet or up to 4 billion+ word combinations as a graphic digital display device. It is essentially an entropy machine – it is designed to break, a product of unnecessary complexity.
The display itself is designed as a 30 meter high x 150 meter wide array of linear quartz lamps, 3,500,000 watts total power. The first full installation will be on a cliff face in the Northern Arizona desert (a 10% scale model is currently under construction for use in smaller venues.)
The human body and mind are integral to the control system, essentially a 64 channel mechanical relay control that is both state of the art and archaic in design. A computer reads from a “book” and passes instructions to 4 bodies (performers) in rotating cages (actually large drum type
switches), who in turn pass information to 32 bodies via an eye tracking system.
Also on the Beautiful Light website Therrien talks about the piece.
Installations in the BEAUTIFUL LIGHT series are derived from ideas that I have been fascinated with since childhood, most specifically, the phenomema of light and electricity and the role of light in our belief systems, language, biology, natural world and cosmology – light as illumination, energy, information – and as a metaphor for good and evil. It is also one of our earliest technologies – fire to drive out the night.
The term “Beautiful Light” is double edged, describing both the observable physical nature of pure light and representations in various belief systems and cultures – Egyptian, Greek, Judaism, and later, Christianity. In Egyptian mythology, the god Taht (Apollo in Greek) was represented as a “beautiful light” and this light represented knowledge itself. In the Bible, angels are described as beings of light – messengers of light.
In addition to my interest in light and electricity, I have a fascination with language and the codes that represent it, both analog and digital. The 4 LETTER WORD MACHINE, the first installation in the BEAUTIFUL LIGHT series, explores the purity of white light, the mystery of language, the precision of digital codes and the magic of 4 letters – A, C, G, T – representing the DNA code, and consequently, all known life.”