One recent idea I’ve been investigating is the transmission of data by ephemeral, imperfect, mechanical means. It began as the thought of using a knotted cord to transmit a sequence of notes around a room for a physical sonic sculpture, but has taken other directions as I have given more thought to what it means to make a mark.
Mark making can be broken into three categories: addition of material, removal of material, and the modification of a material (although there is a fair amount of overlap between the categories). Examples of addition were to clamp a bead onto a passing string, to add a blob of glue, or to add a drop of water. Removal of material could mean cutting away, notching, or burning a substrate as it passes. Modification could be knotting the material as it passes, staining it, raising the temperature, etc.
Most media strive to be precise and permanent. By soaking portions of a passing rope with saline, these regions can be detected as they pass “listeners” further down the line. Due to the capillarity of the rope, however, the saline spreads out in several directions which causes slight conductivity and more gently ramping (as opposed to digital) signal. Due to evaporation, the signals get weaker and weaker as they progress through the system yielding unexpected results. Looping everything back around will allow one continuous rope to be used.
Additional possible methods could use a heating element to apply varying amounts of heat to a passing wire. As the heat spreads, the crispness of the signal is diminished and bleeds into adjoining signals. As the heat is transferred to the environment, the overall signal diminishes and returns the wire to its original state.