The Known Unknowns

"The Known Unknowns" is an installation about randomness by Steffen Fiedler & Jonas Loh.

The Known Unknowns

Known Unknowns; photos: Matthias Steffen, actor: Daniel Godward

The Known Unknowns investigates if randomness exists and what it means to us. We are attempting to generate random numbers using cosmic rays and radioactive particle detection, both of which are currently unpredictable and irreproducible events. The aim is to look for ways to apply this randomness in a society that renounces deterministic beliefs.

By developing three devices which are generating random numbers based on cosmic rays, radioactive radiation and wind, we propose to establish a relationship to the natural chaos and see it as something valuable which can be harvested for later usage. This first part of the project focuses on the generation of random numbers using two different seeds:

The Random Event Harvester is based on a Geiger counter that notices radioactive particles, producing a bitstream that is afterwards converted in real numbers. It's characteristic of being portable allows collecting random numbers in the environment and store them with associated geographical information.

The Cosmic Ray Detection Chamber is inspired by current approaches to generate true rather than pseudo random numbers: Particle movement is tracked on a quantum physics level. The design is based on a cloud chamber that visualises tracks of cosmic rays that are energetic charged subatomic particles that originate from outer space. These tracks are then used to generate random values.

(short from the artists' websites)



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