Information ?

Lecture notes: Ben Howell Davis, April 18, 2002, UC Santa Barbara

Poster by: Cory Podielski, UC Santa Barbara


1 - Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames

From scale to spectrum

2 - Data Analysis - American Demographics Magazine

How many wash your hands in the bathroom?

3 - How Much Information is there in the World? By Michael Lesk

You can save everything.

4- Changes in the definition of information

Static to kinetic to neurobiologic and its effect on the language of art.

Information Theory and Aesthetic Perception, Abraham Moles, 1966.

20th Century Preoccupations: Conquest of the world, communication between humans.

From pyschological and perceptual terminology to information theory and structuralism.

Theory of communication came from the time of the telegraph and telephone

Messages that have the best human efficiency appear as a proper balance between banality and originality. Intelligiblity varies inversly with orginality.

Clever counterpoint of semantic and esthetic originality.

Information is that which adds to a representation.

Information is all about quantity much data has been represented? Resolution, links. Etc.

The old vocabulary of information:


Sonic material




Modulation of duration

Scanning - gives the key to an unknown alphabet at the time of learning





Background noise






Sound object assembly




Function and time

Temporal window

Value and sign

All this has changed. The evolution of computing toward DNA and Quantum computing has made the velocity of information the definition. States per second.

Information is the states of a system that refines an action or any elaboration or extension of those states. Systems are ranked by velocity. Quantity is flow. Entropy is the rate of loss of information.

Moving toward a world where "The immediate is the message." Advances in neuro and cognitive science, biotechnology, especially advances in high speed visualization technology are bringing us closer to actually interacting with nervous systems. Consciousness itself is now up for investigation in the sciences.

Example from spindle cell research:

Recently, we have identified a class of neurons that are unique to humansand our closest relatives, the great apes. Area 24 appears to be an interface between emotion and cognition. The bottom part of area 24 controls autonomic functions such as heart rate and blood pressure, and is involved in the production and recognition of facial expressions. The experience of virtually any intense emotion whether it be anger, love, fear, or happiness is associated with the activation of the bottom part of area 24. By contrast, the top part of area 24 is activated whenever the subject is engaged in a cognitively demanding task


John M. Allman, Atiya Hakeem, Joseph M. Erwin, Esther Nimchinsky, Patrick Hof.


5 - Art work in relation to that schema.

Painting and Drawing as mark making

Messages that have the best human efficiency appear as a proper balance between banality and originality.

Politics and Aesthetics

Duchamp, Warhol

Mao and Hitler

Photography - the perfect medium for ambiquity - positive/negative, truth and lies

Intelligiblity varies inversly with originality.

Robert Frank, Jerry Ulesmann, Robert Fichter

Everyday Pictures - presentation

Kennedy Papers - news, mystery, conspiracy, myth, codes - like A Beautiful Mind

Vector Shredders - peripheral vision, the minimalist fragmenting of space

End of the 20th Century Iris prints

Media Arts

Information is that which adds to a representation.

This is the age of the proxy, the age of marketplace democracy, the age of endless availability, the age of the brand new, the age of the American economy, the age of deferred experience, the age of specialization and exclusion, the age of the

deceived gaze, the age of appearances and opportunity, the are of the prerogative, the age of providence and information, the age of science fiction, the age of simulation, the age of the death of the subject, the age of endless duplication, the age of consumption and acquisition, the age of hyper-reality, the age of the present without a history.

Bruce Barbar 1984.

Signal to noise - comprehension of TV reversed on itself

Video, Slow scan, Performance, Publishing - Media as bath - images in the air, ubiquitous

Memory Theater - Francis Yates

Simonides (556-468 BC) is generally credited with inventing the art of

memory. He is also the first to equate the methods of poetry and painting. Simonides thought of painting, poetry, and memory as intense visualization.

- Triggering memory, education, media, making sense of art as learning tool...

Interactive Design

Information is all about quantity

Education and Technology - interactive laser disc, transmission of knowledge - any subject can be learned if "visualized"

MIT Projects - software development application driven, based on "states", plastic editors.

Communication Design

Its all files now. Asset management....what's your file?

Getty Development - context of Cener, Robert Irwin

Web (Imaging Book, GII, LACN) , Publishing, Time and Bits

Web sculpture

Razorfish Science Projects

When Everything Learns

Strategic Asset Management for Media and Entertainment

Digital Art works - speed and transport- Global reach

Clever counterpoint of semantic and esthetic originality.

Information is the states of a system that refines an action or any elaboration or extension of those states. Information is velocity of decision making.

Digital photography is the accention of surrealism to the common imaging is completely fluid - there's no image, only the infinitely manipulable bits...transformative

Jason digital photo

Digital abstract Images

6 - The new vocabulary of information


Physical substrate

Spiking patterns

Transfer function


Assumed computing


Ion Channels

Quantum fluctuation

Stocastic resonator

Emergent behavior


Channel capacity

Logical depth

Through put

Phase states

Emergent properties

Bit capacity

Readiness potential



7 - Counter Environments - Painting and drawing

The mystery staring you in the face.

Return to where we started and know it for the first time.

8- Dynamic Timeline

"Managment" of "files" in terms of neurobiology, DNA and Quantum computing

Files are measured by how fast they load. How fast you need to find them, how often they are requested to perform. Everything is in "file state".