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Professional Exchange Visual Arts

Swiss duo Gysin-Vanetti to bring their coded display art to Fak’ugesi 2019

See more work by the artists

Gysin-Vanetti Vimeo

Gysin-Vanetti (Andreas Gysin & Sidi Vanetti) are a Swiss artist duo exploring images, patterns and geometries created by reconfiguring multipurpose displays. Rather than modifying the core hardware however, the duo work within the parameters to find infinite visual permutations from which they build images, animations and generated patterns.

Both born in 1975, Andreas and Sidi’s friendship stems back to the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Ticino where they teamed up for what would be the first of a long-lasting collaboration: a dissertation on visual communication.

The displays they use are designed and intended for multipurpose use. The appeal for the duo (apart from the mechanical aspects) is the ultra-low resolution, the circular shape of each dot and the binary palette. They try to understand how to build complex images in these small grids: at times the height is only 14 units or ‘pixels’. All of these displays have one other common characteristic: high contrast, industrial build quality and a relatively long lifespan (and a high price, unless they are bought as “junk”).

Andreas and Sidi’s process of working incorporates rough preliminary programming that simulates the mechanical display on a laptop screen. This “sketching” process allows them to develop and test concepts without being around the physical display objects.

For their participation in Fak’ugesi African Innovation Festival from 30 August to 8 September 2019, Andreas and Sidi will develop a new version of their 2014-16 work Digits, with materials sourced on location and programmed onsite. This will be the third “version” of the work.

Alongside this, Andreas and Sidi will participate as mentors for the African Digital Residency artists and run an open master class during the festival on 31 August 2019.

Digits 2 from Andreas Gysin on Vimeo.


Digits is composed of several electro-mechanical elements called 7-segment displays, which are usually used to display numbers and a limited set of characters. They are used to display petrol prices at gas stations or whenever a numerical display is needed. In the installation the individual blades of each digit are programmed to produce waves of horizontal back and forth motion. Powerful solenoids activate the lightweight blades producing a characteristic sound. The elements are white on a black background for maximal contrast and readability without the need to emit light. The whole digit is slightly italic giving each blade a unique and interesting form together with strong ‘industrial’ quality and the lack of any ornament.

This project exists until now in two versions which depend on the environment: one with the elements disposed in a horizontal line on the floor, the other in a rectangular shape hung on a wall. In the line version the animation is much faster and louder, more physical. In the wall version the animation is slow and the formal compositions emerge at much slower pace. A third version is in the works for the festival.


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