Reading Stones

Mixed media. Glass box, book, stones, paper labels.
2016

A reading stone is an amplifying lens. When placed on the surfaces of printed texts or images it eases the reading and observation of details. Reading Stones is in this case a set of instructions devised to provide a method to read a landscape:

"Walk to a depopulated area, in the countryside. Measure each of the stones you find, and write down the magnitudes. Count how many times each of these measurements is repeated. Return home, choose a book and, from the beginning to the end, count how many times each of the words is repeated during the text. Compare the repetition frequencies between stones and words.”

The following video documents one of these readings. It was performed with a smartphone attached to a selfie stick. The images registered by the phone are processed by an algorithm that with the aid of computer vision techniques locates and measures each detected pebble. Thus, the distribution of the sizes of the stones is obtained. This statistic was then compared to the frequencies of the words in a particular book. That is, if a stone had a size that appeared with the same frequency as the ratio of appearance of a word in the text, a relation stone-to-word was established.

The landscape was, in this sense, read and re-ordered. This technique is analogue to one used to decipher encrypted texts. The experience isn’t meant to detect, read or document traits, as in a forensic approach; nor to isolate, label and register the elements, as in an inventory. It is a method and a walking piece meant to explore a surface encounter: the landscape and the measuring vision as a mutual exchange of counts and frequencies.