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Every Combination of a Sixteen-Segment Display

Toronto-based artist has created a giant 16-segment LED display — the centrepiece of a solo exhibit at Clint Roenisch Gallery.

Jon Sasaki’s 16-segment LED light display at Clint Roenisch Gallery.

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Jon Sasaki’s 16-segment LED light display at Clint Roenisch Gallery.

For prankster conceptualist Jon Sasaki, there are some fruits unique to folly. The Toronto-based artist has created a giant 16-segment LED display — the centrepiece of a solo exhibit at Clint Roenisch Gallery. Over the course of the exhibition, which ends Saturday, the display will flash through every possible combination: all 65,536 of them. Watch long enough and you might see magic.

Mounted on 13-foot scaffolding, Sasaki wanted the light sculpture to feel monumental.

“With 16 segments, every digit and every letter of the English alphabet can be written,” he says, as well as countless other things that — like a Rorschach test — “resemble logos, figures, pictographs, symbols, faces and so on.”

Visitors are told that if they watch enough of the artwork’s incomprehensible signalling, a meaningful transmission might emerge.

I watched through 50-some haphazard, snowflakey iterations until a “4” appeared. I was genuinely thrilled. A four. Its content meant nothing to me and, still, I felt like I’d been blessed by chance. The artist relates a similar experience with three straight lines.

“There is an inefficiency to the piece in that a viewer has to endure a lot of nonsensical configurations before they see something that looks intelligible,” Sasaki says. “One can imagine the machine is struggling to communicate with us and failing most of the time; some viewers might be frustrated by this, but I see a kind of poetry in it.”

Magic, here, is mostly a matter of calibration. 

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