Patrick Lichty: Encoder Study

  • ©2004, Patrick Lichty



    Encoder Study


Creation Year:



    Archival print


    16 inches x 22 inches


Artist Statement:

    To the computer, there is seldom a qualitative judgment of the information it processes or contains. Its function is to store and process information. With the use of computer technology, data are encoded into various patterns for reading by scanners and bar code readers that are completely opaque to the human reader and human valuation. The aesthetic of these codes is strangely compelling, much like that of the Rosetta Stone, and beckons us to try to read the code, but without the proper tools, we can’t. On the back of one’s identification card, any information could be encoded, and it would be difficult to determine what data the card actually contains. Encoder is a 1992 concept that was realized in part in 2003 through comparison of three sacred texts with three texts that could be said by many to be profane, all of which have been encoded into a pixelated DataMatrix format. Three things are striking about these texts. Although variations can be seen in the data patterns at closer inspection, the patterns placed in context with one another lack visible differentiation, suggesting a total lack of qualitative value between sets of data in a database, and also the opaque wall of perception that exists between the human and computational environments. This hints that the downside of security is a potential lack of access to information or context. Lastly, the eerie beauty of the abstracted patterns of information taken in context with their content is grounds for reflection.

Technical Information:

    Six portions of what are considered sacred and profane texts were encoded with a DataMatrix encoding scheme using commercial labelmaking software. The resulting images were then assembled in a 2×3 matrix in Photoshop with their respective titles, and then printed using an archival-quality Epson 2200 printer.