Gysin-Vanetti (Andreas Gysin & Sidi Vanetti) are a Swiss artist duo exploring images, patterns and geometries created by reconfiguring multipurpose displays. Rather than modifying the core hardware however, the duo work within the parameters to find infinite visual permutations from which they build images, animations and generated patterns.
Both born in 1975, Andreas and Sidi’s friendship stems back to the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Ticino where they teamed up for what would be the first of a long-lasting collaboration: a dissertation on visual communication.
The displays they use are designed and intended for multipurpose use. The appeal for the duo (apart from the mechanical aspects) is the ultra-low resolution, the circular shape of each dot and the binary palette. They try to understand how to build complex images in these small grids: at times the height is only 14 units or ‘pixels’. All of these displays have one other common characteristic: high contrast, industrial build quality and a relatively long lifespan (and a high price, unless they are bought as “junk”).
Andreas and Sidi’s process of working incorporates rough preliminary programming that simulates the mechanical display on a laptop screen. This “sketching” process allows them to develop and test concepts without being around the physical display objects.
For their participation in Fak’ugesi African Innovation Festival from 30 August to 8 September 2019, Andreas and Sidi will potentially develop a new version of their 2014-16 work Digits, with materials sourced on location and programmed onsite. In addition, they will host a workshop during the Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency.
Digits is composed of several electro-mechanical elements called 7-segment displays, which are usually used to display numbers and a limited set of characters. In the installation the individual blades of each digit are programmed to produce waves of horizontal back and forth motion. Powerful solenoids activate the lightweight blades producing a very intense and ‘heavy’ sound. The elements are white on a black background for maximal contrast and readability without the need to emit light. The whole digit is italic giving each blade a unique and interesting form together with a strong ‘industrial’ quality and the lack of any ornament.