“Signal to Noise (Software 5)”, 2013
custom software, computer
dimensions variable, unique
1920 x 1080 pixels
Reas’ latest work inhabits the increasingly voluminous, yet invisible, spaces of information systems and mass communication. Using a variety of materials, his new projects explore the behavior of television signals and entropy. The series “Signal to Noise” intentionally disrupts the information of local broadcast signals. It investigates the field of technical images, as theorized by philosopher Villem Flusser, such as visual information transmitted as data, which relies on text-based instructions to “write” a picture. In the creation of this work, television content was captured from the air with an antenna. Reas then processed the appropriated material with his own custom software, which runs live on-screen. The programmed logic is visible as a geometric lattice, building the illusion of a surface.
In these silent works, software’s capacity for precision and order is subverted. Each generative animation in the series scrambles a 30-minute segment of television captured from a major US network, such as ABC, NBC, Fox or CBS. They fracture and distort the intended images and narrative, to craft alternate, imagined spaces. Their construction is comparable to early twentieth-century collages built from the media of that time, and mid-century video collage.