1BIT 1HZ CPU

SLOW SIMPLE COMPUTER, 2011

TAYLOR LEVY [CA]

1Bit 1Hz CPU is a diagrammatic wall sculpture of a very simple, slow computer. By flicking a regular light switch, a single bit is processed at a rate of one cycle per second to turn on and off a standard fluorescent tube light.

Normally, when you switch on and off a light it responds immediately; the relationship between input and output is analogue. Here, that relationship is digital and requires an oscillator to function. Like inside a computer, bits are processed and sampled by an oscillator, a clock that regulates the transmission of digital signals. In ordinary computers, this clock operates at a sample rate of around 2.4 Ghz; that is 2.4 billion cycles per second. An oscillator at this frequency is so fast that it makes the flow of signals from input to output seem immediate, and obscures what is actually going on.

1Bit 1Hz CPU is a simplified model of how input bits are actually sampled inside a computer and processed to produce an output. The input here is a light switch, the output is a light and the oscillator is a 60Hz (1 cycle per second) AC sync motor. Visitors might be surprised when they have to wait up to a second for the light to respond to the switch. However, by re-imagining the everyday act of switching on and off a light we start to unravel, experience and learn about the elegant mechanism that is behind how computers really work.

1BIT 1HZ CPU Photo: “Circuit detail”
1BIT 1HZ CPU Photo: “Circuit detail”
1BIT 1HZ CPU Photo: “Circuit detail”

About the artist: 

Taylor Levy is a Canadian artist based in New York. She holds a master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A. from Vassar College. Levy is one half of CW&T, an art and design studio based in Brooklyn, NY, whose client list has included Saatchi & Saatchi, The Bronx Museum of Art, Acconci Studio, Johnson & Johnson, and The Huffington Post. Inspired by technology, her work simplifies complex or opaque systems by breaking them apart, exposing their inner workings and re-organising them into self-explanatory structures.

TAYLOR LEVY [CA]