26. leap second


To celebrate the Leap Second Festival, on 30th June 2015 23:59:60 UTC (http://www.nmartproject.net/netex/?p=6354)
a performance is planned.

It will be simple and concise, consisting of either a Yes or a No.

The Yes or No will be generated by a quantum random number generator, which is a machine that generates a continuous stream of 1s and 0s based on the observation of specific sub-atomic particle interactions. For our purposes here, the data this machine generates can be considered as the most random, unpredicable in the world.

The answer (1 or 0, Yes or No) that is generated at the time of the festival will be recorded and documented, and this post updated.

Since all things in the universe are inter-dependent, the Yes or No is the answer to a question we have no means of describing nor understanding. What is Yes at some point in space or time, might be influencing a No at another. All we will be able to say, is that at this moment which is one second long, we know the answer, from a certain (but in all other aspects unquantifiable) point of view.

The question, which is really a Question, could be “what is the meaning of life?” but equally it could be “is there an answer?” In other words, we might end up going round and round in circles, never really sure what the question is (or how it should be properly phrased), nor really sure what form the answer (if there is one) might take.

For the purpose of understanding and clarity, all your possible questions and answers are represented in a simple Yes or a No. There will, naturally, be those among you that declare that Life is not a Yes or a No, that in fact there are infinite regions of grey between these cold poles. I might drag these realists, kicking and screaming, through the works of Gerhard Richter or Ryoji Ikeda and then ask, what is grey, and can it be represented by 1s and 0s? …and after all that, what do you expect the result to be? What exactly would we have we proved, given that we weren’t really sure of the question in the first place?

Is this not what happens in all moments? You may reflect that at any one thought you are faced with a choice, a path, to go or to stay, to speak or remain silent. These moments and your choices are rarely recorded, but they happen and the consequences lead, second by second, day by day, not to answers but to more thoughts and choices. Or perhaps partial answers, to more partial questions, encapsulated in simple Yes or No. Also, consider this: all animals, all people, the whole universe is going through the same thing.

What will you make of the Answer, given that the Question is Unknowable? Is it a call to action or a resignation that everything is outside of our control? We could imagine that this mysterious Question has both Yes and No as equally valid Answers (even at the same time!) in which case, you may ask, what exactly is the point?

Nonetheless, what do you want the answer to be? You have only 1 second to decide, 1 second that doesn’t really exist. Make the leap,

Yes, or No?



The experiment passed; approximately, unscientifically, chaotically. Silently. The binary result, technically a ‘1’, in words perhaps conceivable as a ‘yes’. The pointlessness of interpretation hangs heavy. Inspite of my best efforts, I couldn’t form a question at the crucial moment, so the result simply hangs there as if in somekind of suspension. It occurs to me that our notion of opposites, of 1 and 0 as codes, symbols, is only perfectly conceived in the language of computers. It is not for us. Perhaps the question of whether we are also driven at some fundamental level of conciousness by streams of binary thoughts only reflects our need to simplify what we don’t understand. Perhaps we want to see some natural equivalence between the machines we build and the machines we are ourselves.

The idea that at any one moment, we could compute some answer to explain the current state of the universe, with its infinite inter-dependencies, might represent our mastery over the system in which we find ourselves (as if, we are simultaneously both of the system and outside it, looking in). The nonsense of this doesn’t stop us from acting as if it were infact true. Which is why the only appropriate time for such a calculation is inside an artificial second, whose creation is testiment to our inability to measure the heartbeat of the world. Randomness gives us the answer, and also a meta-answer, which is that all the yes’s and all the no’s cancel themselves out over time, leaving a pure emptiness.