Light Pattern (2012 - 2013)


Light Pattern is three things:

  1. A programming language that uses photographs in the place of text for source code

  2. An encoding system for data, stored in base-3 (ternary) form, as photographic metadata

  3. An arduino-controlled camera & filter wheel prgrammed to shoot Light Pattern programs



In Light Pattern, changes in exposure and dominant color determine data and commands -- the language has no regard for the content of the images apart from these attributes. To write a Light Pattern program, you would take photos with these color changes in mind, rather than writing text of the "goto 10" variety. So, in effect, your source code is a directory full of jpegs.

Programming languages are denotative, lacking much of the nuance and bodily gesture of human expression -- it is a negotiation between human thinking and computer logic. The camera, likewise, has no regard for connotation -- it is an apparatus with no understanding of content, as pointed out by conceptual photographic work such as John Hilliard's Camera Recording Its Own Condition (1971). Light Pattern requires a programmer to take photos with technical considerations in mind.The content of the photos is irrelevant, inscrutable to the compiler. The pattern of color and exposure in the resulting photos make up the source code for a Light Pattern program.

One photo cannot hold Light Pattern data. Light Pattern is delta-based: the data sits in the changes of light between one frame and the next. Light Pattern also does everything in threes: between each image are three trits of data, where a trit is the base-3 equivalent of a bit, showing deltas for shutter speed, aperture, and dominant color.

Light Pattern will be presented with its first programs (in still images and video) at Transfer Gallery, Aug 2014

Pall Thayer's "Frozen In Time" as a Light Pattern program:


From the original Hello, World program:


And the original prototype: