ralf baecker - Random Access Memory

Random Access Memory

Installation - 2016
Video Documentation, 2016

Random Access Memory is a fully functional digital memory. Instead of operating on semiconducting components to represent either the binary states of 0 (zero) or 1 (one), the memory uses grains of sand as storage material. Sand grains can be read, placed, or removed on a rotating disc by a three-axis pick and place mechanism combined with a microscope camera to track the position of a single sand grain. This memory mechanism is prone to errors through misreadings, bouncing grains, and other imponderabilities.

Furthermore, the machines performs a computational process on this memory. The algorithm, executed on the sand grains, is a so-called Turmite, a two-dimensional operating Turing Machine. Its only goal is to write as many 1’s (stones) as possible in the memory and to avoid termination, following a strict rule. This process emerges complex and repetitive pattern on the disc. R A M investigates the contrast between a “pure” mathematical process (algorithm) and its “impure” material implementation into the world. Random Access Memory reflects on the interaction of idea and matter and their encounter in contemporary information technology. It forms some kind of hybrid between contemporary and ancient technology. Computing with sand, Geomancy, or `ilm al-raml (the science of the sand) is an old Arabic divination technique based on sand grains or other geological material, that was “cast” on a plane surface. A strict set of rules, recursively applied to the grains get condensed in order to gain knowledge about the future. Nowadays boolean algebra is inscribed into thin layers of purified silicon, another geological material, in order to execute complex simulations like weather prediction on it.

Random Access Memory - Machine view, 2016
Random Access Memory - Detail, 2016
Random Access Memory - Layout, 2016
Random Access Memory - Layout, 2016
Random Access Memory - Layout, 2016
Installation view at Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin 2016
Random Access Memory - Geomantic figures, 2016
Random Access Memory - Software Screenshot, 2016
Geomantic figures and software screenshot
Time-Leapse, 2016
Produced with the support of the Graduate School of the University of the Arts, Berlin with the support of the Einstein Foundation.


2020 Trondheim international biennale for art and technology / Meta.Morf X – Digital Wild
Trondheim Kunstmuseum Gråmølna, Trondheim NOR

2018 DIA-LOGOS. Ramon Llull und die Kunst des Kombinierens
Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM), Karlsruhe DE

2018 Thinking Machines. Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria
EPFL ArtLab, Lausanne CH

2017 Prima Materia
Fiber Festival 2017, Amsterdam NL

2017 kinetical patterns
Galerie Gerken, Berlin DE

2016 No New Kind of Duck - Graduale 16
Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin DE