Signal Versus Noise Jeff Shih, Researcher Updated Jan 15, 2013 Suppose that there is an instruction contains several words. Suppose also that someone does not need to pay attention to all words to figure out what to do (4). A person, who is stingy with time and energy, would ration his attention to only register words that have the potential to change his/her current behavior.* In other words, information users typically focus only on "signals," forming an opinion about the current state of affairs by factoring in the signs that are significant to us (3). Everything else is "noise."
Statement on Signals (#signalrichenvironment) Throughout my history a “signal” vernacular has informed a fundamental aspect of my studio practice. The ensuing vocabulary evolved from an early start with flag forms, along with a direct use of light source and sign making equipment and materials. It references a decades long pragmatic commercial practice, along with a strong reference to the theatricality of minimalism and the signaling capacity of color field painting and geometric abstraction. The idea of the “signal” brings my intent into direct contact with the quotidian. The signals are real and operational – they function directly in the environments where they are located. They operate slightly outside of a normal usefulness, yet they somehow remain primarily pragmatic. They are most often the result of a hacking process that brings disparate elements or systems into a direct composition. Deconstruction and ad-hoc mis-use are often on equal footing with invention and fabrication. A mimetic presence arises not from the signal objects themselves, but rather from their use – not from what they are, but what they are doing. And this presence is fluid, drifting through a series of representations that, for me, question our cultural agreements and our assignments of meaning to the built world around us. Along with previous iterations, the current signals are updated versions that respond to present-day technologies and mass-market hardware – not as an attempt to find a cutting edge, but to continue to define and respond to the everyday functional capacity of our world. They are tools, careful concoctions that are gauged to develop and maintain a functional integrity as they serve to highlight our tenuous and approximate existence.