ƒlirp, the title of this project produced for CAR, plays with quirky web2.0 naming conventions. In fact, ƒlirp is an acronym for exactly what it is – a ‘fast loop image recycling process’.

There are two sides to the ƒlirp coin: it is simultaneously a ‘cinema house’, it’s own interactive, mobile, green, micro movie house; and, ‘House’ cinema: the plot, rural homes for sale or in repossession due to the current mortage malaise in America; the ‘fabula’, a narrative conjured in the minds of audience members while interacting with ƒlirp’s solar-battery-driven Organic-LED responsive screens. It has been said of art cinema that the movie exists in the cut, the space between the frames. In ƒlirp, that could not be more apparent, extending this notion to include the interactive space between spectator and screen.

Creating and installing a tiny multi-screen cinema house for this event, not much larger than a few cell phones, ƒlirp senses the presence of spectators. In turn, their proximity edits the screen contents, a ‘House cinema’ story unfolds,  juxtaposing insides and outsides of homes on the New Depression Era skid,  encouraging the spectator to imagine or project human stories into these settings.

ƒlirp recycles user-generated real estate and home repossession images from the web, primarily homes and former homes on the American Prairies, harkening back to 1930s Dust Bowl Depression Era, which along with current blog and net news media, catalyzes story-creation in the mind of the observer in front of miniature responsive screens. ƒlirp also appeals to concerned media artists and culture producers to embrace sustainable and recyclable energy sources. For ƒlirp’s power needs, the sun is enough. Its light powers both ƒlirp’s ‘cinema house’ while empowering its ‘House cinema’ audience.

Alex Wenger | Jayoung Bang | Julian Finn | Philip Pocock | Yunjun Lee

data quantified

Exploding Brain gravure image
cartoon of an overloaded brain flipping its lid.


Here’s a list of data storage units and their approximate storage capacity:

  • 1 byte: A letter
  • 10 bytes: A word or two
  • 100 bytes: A sentence or two
  • 1 kilobyte 103: A very short story
  • 10 kilobyte: An encyclopedia page
  • 100 kilobyte: A medium-resolution photograph
  • 1 megabyte : A novel
  • 10 megabytes: Two copies of the complete works of Shakespeare
  • 100 megabytes: 1 meter of shelved books
  • 1 gigabyte = 109: A pickup truck filled with pages of text
  • 1 terrabyte = 1012: 50,000 trees of paper
  • 10 terrabytes : The printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • 1 petabyte = 1015: The Internet Archive Wayback Machine contains almost 2 petabytes of data
  • 1 exabyte = 1018: Berkeley studies estimated that by the end of 1999 the sum of human-produced knowledge (including all audio, video recordings and text/books) was about 12 exabytes of data. The study also estimated that “telephone calls worldwide on both landlines and mobile phones contained 17.3 exabytes of new information if stored in digital form”, and “it would take 9.25 exabytes of storage to hold all U.S. [telephone] calls each year.” International Data Corporation estimates that 161 exabytes of digital information were created, captured, and replicated worldwide in 2006.
  • 1 zettabyte = 1021: The IDC estimates that by 2010 there will be 988 exabytes, just under a zettabyte, in all computer storage world wide.
  • 1 yottabyte = 1024: IBM estimates that soon after 2010 the volume of online data will approach a yottabyte, or 1 trillion terabytes.

That’s a lotta data. [Sentient Developments]

How Much Data in the World?

In 2006, the world created 161 exabytes — of digital information. That’s like 12 stacks of books that each reach from the Earth to the  sun.

By 2010, about 70 percent of the world’s digital data will be created  by individuals. [ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

How Much Data in the Human Brain?

Nobody knows the data compression algorithm (psychology, association…), or a methodology to actually quantify this.

One commenter on a page dealing with this puzzling issue Of Two Minds gets so mad at the discussion, he writes: So.. um… the storage capacity of human memory is whatever a computer science person says his hard drive is, plus 10%. Ok? Not good enough? How about: the storage capacity of human memory is purple.

“The storage capacity of human memory is an asshole.”
“The storage capacity of human memory doesn’t care about your feelings.”
“The storage capacity of human memory slept with your mom.”

And so on. They’re all equally accurate.

Database Imaginary


database imaginary exhibition website screenshot
database imaginary exhibition website screenshot

‘Dataistic’ exhibition and symposium at Canada’s Banff Center for New Media some years ago, sets the stage for thinking about ‘dataism’.

Databases drive culture. 33 artists take us on an imaginative and subversive ride. The artists presented in Database Imaginary use databases to comment on their uses and to imagine unknown uses. The term database was only coined in the 1970s with the rise of automated office procedures, but the 23 projects in this exhibition – which includes wooden sculptures, movies and telephone user-generated guides to the local area – deploy databases in imaginative ways to comment on everyday life in the 21st century. Using newly inflected forms of visual display arising from computerized databases, the works seem to raise questions about authorship, agency, audience participation, control and identity. Some ‘dataism’-related images from the exhibition and the process of setting it up.

One Database Imaginary curator Steve Dietz’ thought piece for the show: The Database Imaginary:Memory_Archive_Database v 4.0