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Every Icon John F. Simon

Every Icon, created by John F. Simon Jr. in 1997 incorporates duration in a way that, while “resolved conceptually, it is unresolvable in practice” [2]. Every Icon is a “personalized Java applet, available for purchase from Amazon.com for $20” that consists of a 32 x 32 grid of varying black and white elements [1]. The grid’s elements change as the software progresses from a completely white grid at the start, to eventually show every possible combination of black and white grid elements. It is very similar to Casey Reas’s Software Structures (2004) in its “algorhythmic approach to image production” [1]. Theoretically, the final product will be a completely black grid, after having been through every possible icon displayed in the grid. However, this outcome is not likely since the second line alone (of the 32 lines) is estimated to take 5.85 billion years to complete. While the first line takes only 1.36 years to complete, the entire grid will take “several hundred trillion years on an average computer” to display all 1.8 x 10308 possible icons that could exist within a 32 x 32 grid [3]. Simon says that, “in some ways, the theoretical possibilities outdistance the time scales of both evolution and imagination” [2].


[1] Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, 2009.
[2] Rhizome.org, 2005.
[3] Whitney Artport

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