“Oracle” 2003

Images | Video Documentation | Project Source (230MB)


“Oracle” is an interactive new media installation. It uses real-time weather data, chaos math, and the presence of the viewer(s), to create abstract narratives framed as oracles.

According to Benoit Mandelbrot, the fractal patterns we observe in nature are due to differential equations. These equations are the foundation of what is known as chaos mathematics. “Oracle” is fundamentally a process that realizes, in text and image, the will of nature.

The “Oracle” installation has two central aspects; the visual image and the audio-scape. The visual image is made up of two layers. The ground, symbolizing nature, is a cross-fade between video clips representing Earth Air Fire and Water. Emerging from this ground is a stream of text, seen three words at a time. These texts are created from a one-hundred and thirteen word database consisting of five languages. The “Oracle” image, generated in realtime, is projected down onto the floor on a 1.5m wide circle of white sand.

The cross fade between the four elements is controlled by the current wind direction. The choice of language and words is made by a complex chaos equation. The variables of the equation are fed by the current weather conditions (temperature, wind direction, wind speed, wind gust, humidity and pressure), and tracking data.

The “Oracle” tracking system interprets the average viewers’ position around the projection as a conflict or agreement with nature. When the viewer is facing into the wind this is interpreted as a conflict, when the viewers back is to the wind this is interpreted as an agreement with nature.

Each of the five languages and the four elements are associated with samples used in the audio-scape. The weather conditions are the environment of the audio. This environment effects the sound the same way those changing physical environmental factors would change the quality of the sound in a real space. The conflict and agreement with nature is used to shift the emphasis of the audio towards the elements (for agreement) or towards the words (for conflict).

Oracle was created with the support of the Rogers Communications CentreRyerson University and Synthops. The audio was produced in collaboration with Len9.

Production Journal