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Ben Rubin Wants You to Crack the Code to His New Media Artwork Atop a San Jose Skyscraper

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Back in 2006 new media artist Ben Rubin — who recently graced the revamped lobby of New York’s Public Theater with his “Shakespeare Machine” — debuted “The San Jose Semaphore,” a public artwork adorning the top of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters and commissioned by the software giant and the city of San Jose. The code that dictated the artwork’s sequencing was eventually cracked by a pair of research scientists, so Rubin has relaunched the artwork with a new code — available in full on the project’s website — which the public is invited to crack.

The original code, which was developed using techniques rooted in World War II cryptology for transmitting messages and coordinates undetected, turned out to be the entire text of Thomas Pynchon’s seminal postmodern novel “The Crying of Lot 49.” The new code started transmitting from the Almaden Tower’s 17th floor on October 18, Adobe announced on its blog, but so far nobody has cracked it.

Here’s a glimpse of how the LED light sequence — whose four wheels afford 256 possible combinations and rotate every 7.2 seconds — looks in action:

— Benjamin Sutton

(Images courtesy the artist and Adobe.)

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