The five modules that compose this subtle installation make visible the hidden qualities and processes of semiconductor crystals, e.g., silicon, quartz or silicon carbide, which drive computing technology in the form of transistors and integrated circuits. Baecker uses the physical properties of such crystals to make a primitive form of macro-signal processor, displaying them in enough quantity that they are palpable as raw material. This is a powerful gesture in itself, because crystallization ranging from a massive geological scale to nano-particles is an extensive and alluring field of study – not to mention the association of all crystals with the sheer beauty of gemstones. Baecker’s crystalline materials in Irrational Computing are taken from nature or industrial waste products, or they are cultivated specifically for the work. They are used to modulate current, which generates signals that can then become available to the senses in the form of light display and sound. This is reminiscent of Howse and Kemp’s intelligently spurious and dysfunctional mechanisms for data gathering in AP0201 (VIDA 8.0 prize). In Baecker’s work, a silicon carbide crystal, for example, is made to light up at numerous points via electrical stimulation. The electrical impulse running through the crystal changes its surface, causing microscopic reverberations that are amplified and emitted through speakers. A field of rochelle salt crystals resonate in a feedback loop using the piezoelectric effect, emitting oscillating sound and light (in LEDs), while another field computes as logic gates and generates constantly fluctuating sound. In their ultra-miniaturization and black-box encasement, these crystalline components that are actually omnipresent in the world tend to be absent from our collective imagination. In Irrational Computing they are brought to our attention through an elegant aesthetic and conceptual nudge.
About the author
Ralf Baecker (DE) works as an artist in the fields of visual and media art. He has studied computer science and media art in Cologne. He was teaching fellow at the Bauhaus University Weimar (DE) and University of the Arts Bremen (DE). Baecker builds installations and sculptures that deconstruct the fundamental elements of symbolic processes. His work has been exhibited internationally. eg. ZKM Karlsruhe (DE), Konsthall Malmö (SE), NiMK Amsterdam (NL), Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin (DE), Laboral Centro de Arte Gijon (ES), Center for Contemporary Art
WINZAVOD Moscow (RU).