BINARY 2014 | video installation | loop
The video above is an excerpt.
Most of the things in the human body are either single or double. The differentiation between one and two is maybe the oldest mathematical concept known to mankind.
In this video, I have taken a still frame from the recording of an Ifá divination and modified the code by adding 1 or 0 in such a way that the original image progressively disappears. The resulting glitch frames are layered over the actual footage of the Babalawo (initiated priest) as he conducts the Ifá divination.
It is believed that some 12,000 years ago, the Yoruba gods of Western Nigeria left behind a means for mortals to communicate with them in the outer realm. This system is known as Ifá divination and it works on the principle of binary combinations.
Ifá is akin to an ancient binary computer system which links the probability of numbers with the complexities of the human condition.
At a divination session, several Ibo (instruments for casting lot), may be used to find answers to a person's problem. The most common forms of Ibo are eight cowry shells or seed pod halves tied together. The eight bits - consisting of two parallel four-bit combinations - can then be read from the sequence of convex and concave (or dark and bright) sides of the pod halves. Each eight-bit combination, or octogram, is associated with lengthy segment of oral tradition, an odù.
Each of the 256 octagrams can lead towards 16 different paths. This adds up to a total number of 4,096 paths that need to be separately memorised and understood by the Balabawo or Iyanifa (initiated priest or priestess). The sixteen most important odù are the ones whose ifá consist of two identical halves (e.g. "Iwori-Meji", literally "two iworis", 0110.0110 in binary). The 240 other odù are known as the minor odù.