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Bit Rot

“Bit Rot” is an installation that consists of a web cam, monitor, and software built with Processing and OpenCV. The program looks for faces in a webcam feed, and takes a snapshot if one is detected. It then begins to decay the image using an algorithm called “Conway’s Game of Life”, one that reproduces lifelike behaviour and is often used in image processing. The decay produces holes and organic shapes in the snapshot image, before being merged to the background when a new snapshot is taken. The cycle continues for the duration of the program.

The experience of the work is often one of initial curiosity, surprise, but also intrusion as the viewer realizes their photo has been taken. However, the viewer is then ultimately relieved as their image is distorted to the point of becoming unrecognizable. The result over time is a visual representation of the past, a collage of moments over time pieced together into a single image. The work is a commentary on the use of face tracking and an exploration in building decaying processes into image data storage. It is designed to shift our perspective on impermanence as error, instead, seeing it as having a liberating potential.