Currently in his second year of the Designing Interactions course at the Royal College of Art in London, Mr Jonas Loh is a man who asks questions.
Most recently, that question has been: "Does Randomness exist or is it just another term for a lack of knowledge?"
Take peek at this ongoing project he's developing in collaboration with Steffen Fiedler, called 'Known Unknowns' which was exhibited earlier this year at the RCA.
Here's Loh's explanation:
"In our daily lives we try to be in control of every likely situation. Therefore we create patterns and try to forecast as many events as possible with the aim to feel well prepared and safe. Nowadays every citizen has many insurances policies covering every detail of a possible occurring event.
Random numbers represent chaos – yet are essential in processes that aim to produce reliable and precise outcomes such as Monte Carlo predictions. They are used for encryption methods and simulations in economics and science covering areas such as risk analysis, population growth and economic predictions.
In principle, every event, including the fall of dice or the outcome of a game of roulette, can be explained in mathematical terms. With the help of quantum physics two of the three prototypes generate true random numbers that cannot be predicted in advance.
By developing three devices which are generating random numbers based on cosmic rays, radioactive radiation and wind, we propose to establish a relationship to the natural chaos and see it as something valuable which can be harvested for later usage."
This first part of the project focuses on the generation of random numbers using two different seeds:
The first is the (wonderfully named) 'Random Event Harvester', based on a Geiger counter that notices radioactive particles, producing a bitstream that is afterwards converted in real numbers. It's characteristic of being portable allows collecting random numbers in the environment and store them with associated geographical information.
To visualise the claimed data, or the bit stream, etchings and millings are produced. The three examples of the millings represent sections of the complete bit stream results, etched in stainless steel. The harvester itself is rapid prototyped and contains an arduino inside, while the display is an oled and the actual counter from sparkfun. For evaluating the numbers, a couple of tiny processing sketches were used; which led to the negative for the etching and the milling files.
The second, is the (equally brilliantly termed) 'Cosmic Ray Detection Chamber', inspired by current approaches to generate true, rather than pseudo random numbers, as particle movement is tracked on a quantum physics level.
The design is based on a cloud chamber that visualises tracks of cosmic rays that are energetic charged subatomic particles that originate from outer space. These tracks are then used to generate random values.
Got all that?
Because the team are now working on creating speculative scenarios in form of social fictions that require specific types of random numbers; as created with their machines...