Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Email Artifactures Noise

Most people try to extract the important information out of the flood of daily emails.
Why not extract the noise? And express the noise as an artifact while you're at it. Art!

E-mail Erosion is an installation that automatically creates sculptures, using spam and e-mail as data to trigger the sculpting process.

The installation, viewable via four webcams, consists of a powder-coat painted, steel frame that measures approximately 42"x 42"x 78". Each side of the frame has a "bot"—a mechanism which can freely move to any point on the side’s face, working much like a flat-bed plotter. In addition to moving, the bots can squirt water into the frame, causing a section of a large block of biodegradable (starch-based) styrofoam to dissolve.

Each of the bots is associated with an e-mail address. When e-mail is received by a bot, it is triggered to either move or squirt water—the particular action being determined by an algorithm that uses the e-mail’s content as input data. The bots email a response to every email they receive, but limit their move/squirt actions to once a day for each address from which they receive email.

People visiting the website will be invited to email the bots. In addition, e-mail will be generated by putting the bots’ e-mail addresses on mailing lists and in places (e.g., the Usenet) likely to be picked up by spammers.

When a bot is triggered, the associated email is displayed on the website next to the bot’s webcam. Whenever a bot moves or squirts, the video of the action is appended to a Quicktime video so that people browsing the website can watch a time-elapse video synopsis of the sculpting process so far.

At the end of the show, the remaining foam, if any, is a finished sculpture.
Ethan Ham, Project Coordinator

we make money not art: Sculpted by email and spam


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