Created by Fito Segrera, Conversations On Chaos is a project that explores the idea of order as an emergence from chaos. It uses chaos theory and elements from dynamic system studies and experimentation in order to create a system where two machines hold a dynamic conversation about chaos.
“Chaos is a state of utter confusion or extreme disorder. In thermodynamics, entropy is used to determine the amount of chaos of a system; this is one of the ways employed to study how our universe expands. Starting from the Big Bang and during 14.3 billion years until the present moment, matter has spread and organized in space; creating an ordered, stable, and apparent symmetric universe. Our harmonious existence, our bodies, our knowledge (patterns of thought), everything we experience today in our organized, balanced and stable lives, emerged from this original disorder.” – Fito Segrera
The installation is comprised of two Random Oscillating Electromagnetic Pendulums or ROEMPs (a modification of ROMPs – instruments used to study chaos theory and dynamic systems in scientific experiments) and a computer running custom software which implements Markov Chains in order to enable the machine with a human like language processing tool.
The installation works as an infinite loop with each cycle containing two main moments: the chaotic dynamics, when the pendulums operate and talk to each other via binary I/Os, and the data processing and text to speech engine operation, when the previously generated chaos becomes the voice for a human like conversation between the entities. After each cycle, the previously generated idea of chaos becomes the new starting point from which a new, and in a sense a more evolved concept about chaos, emerges.
One way of thinking about this process is as thought generator which starts almost as a schizophrenic voice and evolves cycle by cycle into a rational artificial entity.
The total parts of hardware in this installation are two Random Oscillating Electromagnetic Pendulums (ROEMPs), a RaspberryPi linux computer, an audio amplifier and a speaker. The RaspberryPi is mainly used for software and data processing as well as for generating synthetic speech from the data collected. The core hardware are the two Random Oscillating Electromagnetic Pendulums (ROEMPs). The base of each ROEMP is a composition comprised by an array of seven electromagnets and seven magnetic field sensors all wired through a custom circuit board with all its pertinent components. The device has been built so that the magnetic fields between the head of the pendulum and the array of electromagnets face each other with the same polarity (a repelling effect). When a chaotic cycle is initiated, all magnets are enabled, forcing the pendulum to move. As the pendulum starts swinging and hovering over the sensors, signals are sent to the other ROEMP. In other words, each sensor on device A, while detecting the magnetic field of the pendulum, triggers OFF a magnet on device B and vice-versa .
These periodic energy ‘tugs’ cause the pendulums to erratically drift through the electromagnetic fields thus exhibiting total chaos; a closed loop of chaotic interaction and perpetual motion is created, binary signals are sent back and forth between the devices and a low computational level chaotic conversation is held by these two parts of the system.
On the central unit (RaspberryPi Computer) a python script runs in the background. This piece of software is responsible for collecting (via serial communication) the chaotic data generated by the two main pendulums after a chaotic cycle of 3 minutes, then processing this information and inserting it into the Markov Chain Algorithm. The algorithm, for this installation, is implemented as a logical text generator, it uses previously fed text (many documents, articles and philosophical discussions about chaos and order), and the random data collected from the devices, in order to construct a new textual instance on the idea of chaos.