Description

An installation consisting of 3 TV monitors stacked on top of each other.

Microcontrollers supply the video signal for each of the monitors. The monitors follow simple rules of cellular automata to create an infinite array of patterns.

An initial line of random pixel values (0 or 1, represented by a bicolour screen) is generated and a random rule is applied to it, chosen from a set of mathematical rules devised by the famous mathematician Stephen Wolfram.

The value of each pixel on the following line depends on the values of its 3 neighbours on the previous step.

Because of the fact that the three neighbouring pixels can each take either one of two values (0-1), there are only 8 possible inputs to the pixel below.

This configuration can generate a total of 256 rules for the cell below given these 8 inputs.

In the diagram below, rule number 110 is presented, which displays an interesting behavior on the boundary between stability and chaos.

The generated images range from a blank screen to patterns that display immense complexity. As the computation moves downwards, original sub-sequences may or may not be preserved, move to a different location, interact or create new subsequences ad-infinitum. The value of any given cell on the screen is impossible to predict unless the values of all other pixels above it are known, exhibiting computational irreducibility.

This gives the viewer a glimpse of the implication that essentially simple rules can give rise to systems of vastly great computational sophistication.

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