Beirithms, Beijing, China, 2016- Reza Safavi and Max Kazemzadeh
"Beirithms" (“Bei”: Beijing “rithms”: Algorithms) is an interactive digital, kinetic, geo-location performance project, that uses algorithmic functions calculated in a custom GPS Tracking Android Phone App to direct the user’s or “passengers,” to move around the city of Beijing, China. Influenced by the French Situationists who experimented with numerous rules for navigating Paris with the intention of breaking from routine to re-experience Paris from new perspectives, "Beirithms" will use a custom phone app that, when shaken, will guide the “passengers” through the city of Beijing, on skateboards, with directions and distances as well as required activities, such as dropping a 10 kg bag of rice in a specified GPS location, and then shaking the phone again for the next directive. Directives are intended to guide the user/passenger through the city exposing elements of that city outside of their control and with navigational chance. The movements of the user/passenger in the "field" are tracked via GPS and remapped to the museum space, triggering the movement of an automated kinetic interactive funnel that drops grains of rice onto the museum floor into piles, creating a topological record of how long passengers have been in certain areas of the city, like a three dimensional hourglass. When passengers spend more time in a particular part of the city, the piles of rice in the installation space are higher or taller in that remapped room in the museum, and when passengers spend less time in a particular area of the city, the piles of rice are lower or shorter. In addition to the topological rice printer in the Beirithms installation, there is also a projection of a map of Beijing. On this map, visitors will see the path of the passengers in the "field," moving around Beijing as directed by their phone app. Visitors will also notice the locations where passengers have been directed to drop a 10kg bag of rice.
Beirithms was developed as a collaboration between artists Reza Safavi and Max Kazemzadeh, which employed different algorithms, materials, activities, and gestures to reflect significant elements inherent within the cultures of the communities where these projects exhibited. Egyrithms’14, the first of these kinds of projects, which exhibited at Di-Egy Festival in 2013, explored the characteristics latent within navigating Cairo. Dabarithms’14, which exhibited at the ISEA 2014 Festival, explored Dubai by mapping the passengers GPS movements digitally and triggering nine fairy drones to launch from their perch and fly away when the “find a wish” directive appeared within the user/participant’s phone app.
The algorithms/navigational rules, content, and activities generated from the directives and actions of Beirithms ’16, and the other Situationist inspired projects, are all influenced by the location, culture, current events and time it is made.