‘Life and Death of an Algorithm’ is an image constructed from tens of thousands of white dice which follows a pattern generated, line by line, by a simple computer binary program. Governed by its own laws, the algorithm follows a quasi-animistic trajectory that emulates the evolution of life: coming into existence, evolving and eventually culminating in death, as the pattern exhausts all potential paths.
The work originates from Troika’s interest in the autonomy of algorithms, technological acceleration and emergence, which began with ʻHierophany’ in 2013 and ʻCalculating the Universe’ in 2014. While its predecessors materialise a pattern generated and maintained by binary systems, ʻLife and Death of an Algorithm’, focuses on the point at which self-governance falters and results in termination. In 2016 Troika also produced a work in this series using coloured dice.
Troika’s dice works reference the historical use of dice as a means of determining fate, chance and luck. The roll of the dice relies on the laws of probability; their application to any external activity is a necessarily arbitrary connection, formulated by human action. In contrast, the fate of the modern man is increasingly determined by algorithms. A process or set of rules to be followed and implemented in problem-solving operations, the algorithm is autonomous and can come to exist independently from, and even influence, everyday life. In restricting the visible numbers on the dice to 1 and 6, Troika have locked the random potential of numbers, and addition of numbers, into these two specific instances. This usurps the dice as a symbol of chance and unpredictability. By manifesting algorithm patterns with this augmented material, the work addresses the encroachment of algorithms on our everyday activity.