straight up
"Bob Rauschenberg at the time of Homage to New York, had asked me to collaborate on a project with him.
He wanted to build an interactive environment, where the temperature, sound, smell, lights etc. would change
as you moved through it."
Robert Rauschenberg's installation, Oracle

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Click to play video View of Oracle

Oracle <1965>

Today one might think of realizing Bob's idea by using neural network chips. Engineers have already built wired houses that respond to you, learning from your daily behavior to turn on lights, close doors, make coffee etc. If you do something unusual like waking up in the middle of the night, the system understands that this is abnormal, and will not start making your morning coffee.

However with the technology available in the early 60's, Bob's idea could not be realized. After many discussions, and years of work, in 1965 on the 15th of May, Oracle opened at the Leo Castelli gallery. It ended up being one of Bob Rauschenberg's most beautiful works and is now at Beaubourg in Paris. Oracle is a sound environment made up of five AM radios, where the sounds from each radio emanates from one of the five sculptures. The viewer can play the sculpture as an orchestra from the controls on one of the pieces, by varying the volume and the rate of scanning through the frequency band. But they can not stop the scanning at any given station. The impression was that of walking down the Lower East Side on a summer evening and hearing the radios from open windows of the apartment buildings. All of the material for the sculptures Bob had found on the streets of New York. Although this sounds simple, the electronics behind the piece as it now works at Beaubourg is very complicated.