Fiber optic bookmarks

Fiber optic cable transmits data by carrying pulses of light, and is part of the often-unseen but extensive physical infrastructure of the internet. When the curators of Living Room Light Exchange asked me to make an edition of bookmarks using fiber optic cable, I wanted to carry out and document a process of abstraction in data transmission.

I fashioned a series of crude paintbrushes using optical fibers as bristles and made marks with them, focusing on the qualities imparted by the material. I scanned two painted bits and used them to encode a secret message in binary, which inadvertently created this beautiful puzzle game-like landscape. The resulting image was printed, risograph-copied, and sliced into bookmarks. Each one carries a fragment of the entire transmission, removed by process from the physicality of cable while still holding an indirect imprint of it.

Many thanks to Robin Sloan for risograph use, Vic Wong for code wizardry, and Liat Berdugo, Elia Vargas, and Rose Linke of Living Room Light Exchange for commissioning this edition of experimental artifacts, which is included with LRLX’s third publication, After the Internet.