For his exhibition "Taming the Chance" Olsen Wolf invited Louise Vind Nielsen among other artists to explore the creative potential of binary dices: Custom made dice with only zeros and ones. Similar to the Fluxkits in Fluxus, the artists received a construction kit with 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32 binary cubes – equivalent to the units of measurement in digital technology and computer science. The participating artists were invited to develop the content independently, for example by rearranging the objects or devising new games whose rules could be a score for an interactive event.
Florian Bräunlich (sound artist and performer)
Franz.iska Henschel (professor of interdisciplinary artistic practice)
Marc Matter (sound artist).
Julia Münstermann (artist)
Louise Vind Nielsen (artist)
Kathia von Roth (artist)
and Professor Dr. Christian Schwanenberger (elementary particle physicist)
Louise Vind Nielsen brought the 16 binary dices to France on a trip in a van together with Florian Bräunlich.
Here's what happened:
8th of June 2022
"Throwing dices with a caterpillar"
by Louise Vind Nielsen
Parking lot by Grotte des Demoiselles, France.
It’s almost 12 a clock. The sun is baking.
He is out for a walk alone, but she decided to stay, exhausted by the heat.
She’s sitting in the entrance of the van because it's the only shady place around here.
In her right hand she’s holding a dice.
Three sides the dice are completely blank.
Each of the other three sides have one black dot.
It makes her think about binarity.
How live consists of a seemingly endless number of decisions.
From the small everyday questions:
Do I wear black socks or green socks?
Do I continue reading or not? Do I want another coffee or not? Do I turn left or right?
To the more complex decisions:
Do I feel anything or not?
Is this the right thing to do or not?
Yes or no. Left or right. Up or down.
The violence of binarity.
Black or white. Him or her. Legal or illegal.
Denying a space for everything in between.
She picks up all 16 dices,
and she throws them.
1 2 3 4 5 6
6 to 16.
The dices in front of her strikes her as being a small parliament
of grey-haired politicians.
Every dice being a tiny head.
Every dot being a small circular mouth going:
Are these tiny politicians giving space for complexity beyond the binary?
I mean, 6 to 16 is not a binary outcome. 6 to 16 is neither a yes, nor no.
6 to 16 is closer to 0 than to 16. But 6 is definitely more than 0…
6 to 16 is 6 times more than 1.
She once learned about binary numbers. 1’s or 0’s.
Open or closed. On or off.
1’s and 0’s is the building bricks of our whole digital universe?
She knows that this line of digits is representing another digit, but she doesn’t recall the equation of how to calculate it.
This is not leading anywhere, she thinks.
The heat and the numbers are giving her a head ache.
She doesn’t want those small politicians to decide for her, nor for anyone else.
So she pulls her body up and lets her body sink onto the backseat of the van.
She must have fallen asleep. At least she wakes up with a quiver as if a cold breeze blows upon her.
Immediately she fells the heat wrapping her body as a heavy blanket again.
She’s lying on her back, still a bit numb from sleeping.
She could have found a solution to the problem in her sleep, but it had been completely sterile and dreamless.
Throwing a look a the dices she finds them to be in the exact same position as before.
But wait a second...
She notices something on one of the dices.
She crouches down to get a closer look … and is very excited about what she finds.
A caterpillar has also been taking a nap. Right on top of one of the dices.
It had chosen a blank one.
The caterpillar had places itself on top of the dice.
As the woman gets closer he starts moving around exploring the edges of the dice.
It crawls down and places itself in the shadow of the dice - The smallest possible shade close-by.
Probably the sun is also getting too hot for him.
For a human eye, blinded by the sunlight, it’s almost impossible to see the caterpillar in the shade.
The caterpillar in the shade
She feels a sudden desire to keep the game going now, really happy to have found this little friend to accompany her.
Bending down to throw the dices again, she pauses:
“Is it ethical to take away the dice, which is giving shadow to this hairy little creature?”
She decides, that it must be okay, since the caterpillar itself had chosen to join the game.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
8 to 16
16 divided by 8 is two… equals…
Half of the parliament voted one, the other half voted blank.
The caterpillar is not moving, not taking the least notice of the change.
His tiny body is now exposed to the merciless mid-day sun.
The woman has a bad consciousness, but the caterpillar seems to accept his destiny.
“I can’t just move the dice back,” she thinks “That would destroy the game”
She decides to give him some water, so at least she doesn’t kill him.
She pours water next to him making sure not to drown him. The water forms a small shiny lake next to the caterpillar.
The woman observes the caterpillar, but to her disappointment he’s not drinking anything and most of the water is absorbed into the ground.
The caterpillar suddenly starts moving the front part of its body from side to side as if it would have caught a funky tune from somewhere, not being able to resist the urge to dance.
Then he sets off his whole body into small wavy movements and moves straight in one direction.
He’s moving quickly.
The woman is alarmed thinking: “He’s about to leave the game” and makes a fast decision. She takes one of the dices, puts it in front of him, blocking his way...
trying to “convince him to stay”.
It seemed to work. He pauses. Then crawls slowly on top of the dice. The woman is happy.
Again he investigates the sides of the dice with his body and crawls down into the shade of the cube. She has a feeling that she’s getting to know him.
Now that she has already broken a universal rule by moving an individual dice, she decides to break another one. She picks up up all dices, except the one which the caterpillar uses as his shadow, and throws the other 15 dices.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
10 to 16
Why do these dices have 6 sides? For a binary dice two sides would have been enough. It is basically like flipping a coin.
For a moment she was afraid that she had hurt the caterpillar. Four dices landed very close to his unprotected body. Each dice must weight more than ten times his weight. The dices could crush his vital organs or give him a major brain concussion. He would suffer for hours as his system would collapse. The inner bleedings would make his body tremble before his tiny heart would finally give up. All this would take place without any human being noticing this horrible tragic.
Fortunately nothing seemed to have happened.
The caterpillar is now surrounded by 4 dices, all showing 1. But it strikes her that for the caterpillar this is not obvious. From his position he cannot even see the upper surface. Only the sides of the dices are visible to him. Right in front of him is a blank side, and a one-dotted side. On his right is, what must seem like a huge wall to him, with one black dot in the middle. On his left, he can see the edge of one dice, and two of its blank sides. For him the result must be 2 to 5. He would be very irritated by people telling him that the result it a clear 4 to 4
I take the chance and throw all dices again.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7 to 16
The caterpillar is not moving . The sun is less harsh now, so he’s probably fine.
It sounds like time signatures in music.
1 to 4… 5 to 8
“I know how to play 4 to 4 and and 6 to 8” the woman thinks “but do I know how to play 7 to 16?”
The caterpillar doesn’t seem to hear or notice anything. Is he about to turn into a butterfly? The woman asks herself. She’s not even sure if he is actually that kind of animal. or will he stay like this forever. Hairy, tiny, brown, forced to move in waves, never being able to fly or walk.
He is still not moving. “Is he loosing interest in the game? He has only explored a few dices close-up.
” In the beginning he was curiously investigating the smooth surface of the dice.
He’d decided by his own free will to enter the game of dices by crawling onto one of them.
the woman thought to herself.
“How come the dices are no more of interest to him. Does he expect all dices to be the exact same as the first ones he encountered?”
… of course the caterpillar was right on this point.