XYZ – inside the interface between system and reality


The always changing art piece XYZ hangs in the air above the meeting square in Navet. It plays with our notion of collecting data in our constant quest of measuring our world.

The art piece XYZ is commissioned by Statens Konstråd (Public Art Agency Sweden) and is placed in the atrium at the SciLifeLab meeting square in Navet, Uppsala. It has been made by Gustav Hellberg who is a Berlin-based artist. The foundation of Hellberg’s artistic practice lies in the public sphere, where he looks for an interaction between people, artwork and the public space.

XYZ consists of three illuminated bar graphs, which are positioned according to the axes of a three dimensional diagram. Each bar graph is connected to a sensor that controls the light sequence. The red light indicates temperature changes in the room. The blue light indicates humidity and the green light the levels of carbon dioxide in the air. The white light indicates each diagram’s electric power consumption.

The processors that are controlling the sensor data and turning it into light sequences are programmed so that they will present the change in the values produced by the sensors. The algorithm is constructed to alter the scale according to the fluctuation of the sensor values. When a sensor deliver a series of values with small differences the processor will increase the scale. This also leads to an oscillating effect as it tries to adjust and balance its output. Thus it is constantly changing the bar’s scale, which also means that the visual information is constantly changing. Instead of being an exact instrument or diagram XYZ more resembles and organism. It reacts on changes in the room’s condition, which can be caused by people. It reacts on temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide. They are all important entities that determine human existence.