Seven Segment Display

A large scale text device in the shape of the seven segment led, this scupture investigates the relationship between bodily experience and linguistic perception. The device is made from fluorescent shop lights, is fully programmable and controllable via computer terminal, and can be sent any variety of text. It is a surrogate electronic voice, delivering textual utterances on a grand scale (referencing corporate signage), suggesting large technological infrastructure (such as mainframe computers and server farms), and rendered partially incomprehensible due to its scale and the limits of its form. The piece creates a seductive sensory experience which invites the viewer to work deciphering coded messages.

Typically a numeric display, the seven segment form is severely limited in rendering text. I am interested in these formal limitations because of the resulting demands the piece makes on flexibility of perception for both viewer and writer. Communication through the Seven Segment Display requires understood conventions of abbreviation in the same manner as SMS messaging and the visual morphology of 1337 speak. Compounding this difficulty, the large scale of the piece makes perception an issue of physical perspective—up close the sculpture is more readily understood as sensory/perceptual experience than read as legible text. The viewer’s positioning of their body becomes instrumental in their interpretation of the piece.

large-format text display. custom control circuitry, fluorescent lights. 60′ x 12′. 2007.

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