Perry Hoberman
ZOMBIAC
ZOMBIAC (Zone Of Monitor-Based Inter-Amnesiac Contact, 2000) consists of a large number of computer terminals and workstations, ranging in vintage from the 1970s to the present. Each computer has been "zombified": all the original electronics have been removed, transforming them into mindless "electronic brains". The cathode-ray tube from each monitor has been removed and replaced with a translucent plexiglas surface that conceals a blinding green spotlight that can be switched on and off. Each system is thus reduced to a simplified but powerful binary (on/off) state (which is of course the foundation of virtually all digital computing systems).

Each terminal is mounted on a turntable (controlled by a stepper motor), so that each can be rotated rapidly to face any direction. Sensors in each system allow the monitors to respond to actions of the other monitors, as well as to movements of visitors. At any point, any monitor can begin a "conversation" consisting of semi-random bursts of light and sound. Nearby monitors respond by rotating to face the active monitor, continuing the conversation by emitting their own flashes and sounds, causing other monitors to respond in turn.

As visitors enter, sensors track their movements, triggering monitors to turn to "watch" them. The monitors emit bursts of light and sound, attempting to engage visitors in conversation. A number of different sensors are built into each computer assembly, including sensors for proximity, motion, light and sound. This allows each monitor to respond to a variety of stimuli, leading to a seeming complexity of behavior.
ZOMBIAC aims to manifest a kind of (fake) artificial intelligence that steers clear of any attempt to communicate meaningful information to its human participants. Certain kinds of dialogue and exchange between us (human) and them (machine) may be possible here - but only on their terms.