Random Information Exchange

Random Information Exchange


This project has its own website >HERE<


The Random Information Exchange is a project that has existed in a number of iterations. The earliest version took place as an artist’s intervention prior to involving members of the Polytechnic (an artists group that engaged with experimental open source methodoligies) Sneha Solanki and Clive Jackson. It continued through increasingly complex iterations (with further support from Solanki and programmer Andrew Brown) as part of practice based academic research into open source practice.

Each version took place in cultural settings and throughout the development of the RIE I attempted to minimise my personal ownership of the concept in order to observe and encourage participants’ interaction with the system. The RIE explored social hierarchy within an unrestricted environment. The system evolved in later iterations to leave traceable project threads in order to see what conditions were necessary for an idea to flourish and what would cause an idea to remain undeveloped. In creating this system, I could observe how the behaviours of users mirrored the behaviour of open source software developers whilst also making qualitative judgements via the time and effort participants gave to the creation of artefacts.



The Random Information Exchange originated as a response to a request for The Polytechnic to participate in the Waygood Gallery International Art Fayre 2005. I devised the project after discussion with other Polytechnic members Sneha Solanki and Clive Jackson. The initial idea was to devise a project that challenged a view encountered in the group’s work that the main benefit of open source was that it is a way of getting free software equivalent to expensive proprietary software. I initially devised this project to highlight the possibilities that exist for artists to explore collaborative practice when they adopt open source development methods. The challenge was to highlight these methods while ensuring participants need not create finished ‘digital’ artefacts that would require extended periods of time mastering software packages and programming languages. The basic rules for engagement with RIE were developed in this first iteration, they are:

1. Devise a simple set of instructions for the creation of an object. (The term object in this case refers to the Object-orientated Programming [OOP] description of an object as something that has a defined state and behaviour.)

2. Upload the instruction set to the RIE database.

3. On uploading the instruction set, a random instruction set already stored in the database will be sent out. Produce an object according to the received instructions.

4. Modify the object, rewrite the instructions according to the modification and upload the new instruction set to the RIE database.

RIE is now on semi permanent hiatus. It was an important part of my practice for  number of years and a number of lessons learned from the project were carried forward to later work like The Shredder.

RIE versions where:

  1. Waygood art Fayre 2005
  2. Open Source City – Static Gallery – Liverpool – 2008
  3. SCANZ –  Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Puke Ariki Integrated Museum and Library – 2009
  4. ISEA (As a fork – RaoP)– University of Ulster – Belfast – 2009