Monday, August 20, 2007

Da Vinci Code for reel and real

(@) Property of Ben Rubin, San Jose Semaphore,

The Da Vinci Code might sound like pure fiction and some believe that such riddles only exist in Hollywood. Let’s not forget that codes and coded messages have been used have been used for more than a century. Even Julius Cesar used simple ‘key’ coded messages when he sent orders to his troops so that his enemies could decipher it. One of the most famous codes is the Enigma code, developed by the German Nazis in1920s and extensively used during the WWII. These codes were difficult if not impossible to crack.

Well, a new code has been cracked today. I am referring to the San Jose Semaphore from Ben Rubin. For those not familiar with it, you can read on at the earstudio website.

Imagine a tall building (Adobe Headquarter in San Jose) with 4 wheels. Each of it can assume four distinct positions: vertical, horizontal, and left and right-leaning diagonal; together, the four wheels have a vocabulary of 256 possible combinations. The San Jose Semaphore transmits its message at a steady rate; its four wheels turn to new positions every 7.2 seconds....

Over the past year, several people have tried to decrypt that message unsuccessfully. But now two analyst, Bob Mayo and Mark Snesrud, from Silicon Valley have succeeded. Their conquest which is revealed on their website was essentially a broadcast of the entire text of from Thomas Pynchon's “The Crying of Lot 49”.

I think this is awesome.! It is great to see how technologies can be used in Art. Ben Rubin was using digital components, XML code, to express his vision, his ‘Art’ sense. We are maybe entering a new era where artist will mix conventional art with 'new medias'. We can probably expect to see more of such messages coming up in the future. Previously, the only location where one could see a mix of Art and New Media was in the 'Modern Art Museum’. I guess we should now call them 'contemporary', but in that case, what will be the next phase of the modern art?

I am not only amazed but also admire the imagination and determination of the people who can crack such codes. Digital and technologies are new ways to express messages and can be great way to stimulate peoples’ skills / imagination.

Finally, I think this is nice to see that movies can be linked to reality. Whilst Da Vinci Code remains as just a great movie, the coding activities and riddles continue to be part of lives indefinitely.

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