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Tablet with yellow background on which the letters S and B can be seen

Roberto Fassone: sibi

Since 04.01.2016

“One understands by algorithm a decision-making process, directives constituting a finite series of univocally defined elementary instructions, which precisely and comprehensively describe the solution to a specific problem.”[1] Peter Weibel

Roberto Fassone’s software work »sibi« is based on algorithms, and generates directives for the production of works of art. »sibi« is not only a random generator for art production based on a program, but shows specifically playful characteristics. The web-based work explains very clearly in three steps what is to be done in order to produce a work of art. Divided into the categories Medium [M], Aboutness [A] and Title [T], one is given a recipe through the minimal interaction of three commands (in the case of Smartphones and Tablets, by touching the screen), which, in command tones, invites users to maximum participation: 

“[M] You have to shoot a photo between 04:00 and 08:00 a.m. at a place with no curves and with flying elements.
[A] Your work has to be about literature and about nature.
[T] The title of the work must be composed of three words: each of them must begin with a vowel.”

Or:

“[M] You must make a video featuring a two-minute song from the 80's; the length of the song must be shorter than the length of the video.
[A] Your work must be about music and about speediness.
[T] The title of the work must begin with the word I.”

In this game, constituted of six rules, three rules limit the work in genre and form. Two parameters regulate the content of the work, and one rule refers to the title. As a result, in theory, fifty billion different combinations of instructions result in »sibi«.

In art history, the work of art as a playful directive for action assumes a prominent role in the Fluxus movement. The work of art – as a theoretically implementable idea, but also as a programmatic recipe, as algorithm – is an essential characteristic of concept art. If one takes the directives seriously in »sibi«, then as a simple presentation there unfolds, by contrast, a complex participative force – if one bears in mind the instructions are precisely complied with, and that works emerge from this.

Thus, »sibi« is a set of rules based on algorithms; basically, a computer game which extends its system of rules beyond its digital structure in the givens and limitations of real world situations. In game studies one refers to a magic circle in which players enter in order to play. The magic circle is based on the assumption and precondition that the players adhere to them by playing the game, become conscious of the rules and accordingly follow them. They approach a game actively. In cybernetics, one refers to control loops which switch back and forth between in- and output and in which the users enter if, for example, they play a computer game. In computer games the playful magic circle and cybernetic set of rules converge like Venn diagrams and form and intersection.

sibis’ magic circle, by contrast, takes in enormously wide concentric circles, and removes the players temporarily and spatially from the screen: “you have to shoot a video between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.; that features nothing but characters dressed in the same colors, and that takes place in the city.” … “you have to take a photograph between 12 a.m. and 4 p.m. in a place with no transparent surfaces, and where you cannot see the sun.” … “you have to shoot a video between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. that features nothing but animals and that takes place in the south.” … “you have to make a cover version of a 2012 song. The cover must feature the sound of a metronome and the singer should be between 40 and 50 years of age.” …

Author: Dr. Stephan Schwingeler
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[1] Weibel, Peter: »Die Algorithmische Revolution. Zur Geschichte der interaktiven Kunst«, URL: http://www01.zkm.de/algorithmische-revolution/ [16.12.2015]

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