Workshop Week 2

Bakewell 1848

In week 2’s workshop, we delve further into the processes involved in the transmission of information. Specifially, we explore the practice of codification—turning information into codes. We will become the ‘Human Fax Machine’. 

PART 1: Discussion

Last week you designed/adapted visual signals to encode, transmit, and decode information. Have you thought about how these processes were carried out? What are the principles of codes?

  • Identify a set of rules you might follow if you were given the opportunity to design a code again.
  • What might we mean by the term ‘compression’. What do you think might be an advantage and a disadvantage of compression?
  • What are the different types of information that are signified in your code? Letters? Words? Instructrions? Actions?
  • What is the difference between interpretation and compilation?
  • What are some of the differences you might encounter between codes designed for human-to-human messaging, and codes designed for machine-to-machine communication?

PART 2: Research

In a group of 3, research one of the below types of codes (in the images):

Tell us/ present to class:

  • What are they used for?
  • What is its history of development? Is it being used today? Tell us an example of its use (past or present).
  • Describe the processes of encoding/ decoding, and transmission. How does it work?
  • Who or what is communicating?

Secret codes/ cryptography

Resistor colour code

code_keyboard scan code

Hexidecimal colours

QR Code

PART 3: The Human Fax Machine


  • Research the history of fax machine: who invented it? When? How does it work?
  • What are the main principles of its operations?


In a group of 6 (2 x subgroups of 3):

Document your experiences and findings:

Answer the following questions as a comment on the class blog posts.

  • What is the picture faxed (title of work, name of artist, ? Who is the artist?
  • How does the artist ‘code’ the information in the line/ abstract drawing/ prints? For example, what information is being omitted? What is being retained? What determines this process?
  • Describe how your encoding process work.
  • Detail the rationale for the way you designed the code. For example, what elements have you choosen to encode (e.g. lines, shapes, points, directions, distances, units etc.) and why.
  • Describe your transmission process. For example, what are the protocols you establish when transmitting the fax?
  • What works particularly well in transmitting the information?
  • What doesn’t work at all?
  • What more is needed to make the transmission work?

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