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San Jose Semaphore


SEMAPHORE: a visual apparatus for communicating messages over distance.

San Jose Semaphore (2006), by artist Ben Rubin, is a permanent public artwork commissioned by Adobe Systems Incorporated in collaboration with the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program.

Located within the top floors of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters in San Jose, California, San Jose Semaphore is a kinetic artwork that illuminates the San Jose skyline with the transmission of a coded message. Like the Semaphore Telegraphs of the 18th century, the San Jose Semaphore is a machine for communication. Each wheel of the San Jose Semaphore can assume four distinct positions: vertical, horizontal, and left and right-leaning diagonal; together, the four wheels have a vocabulary of 256 possible states. San Jose Semaphore transmits its message at a steady rate; its four wheels turn to new positions every 7.2 seconds.

Adobe’s Almaden Tower is situated directly beneath the flight path for aircraft landing at the Mineta San Jose International Airport, and the San Jose Semaphore is sensitive to the passage of aircraft above it. When a plane flies overhead, Semaphore reacts visibly to the disturbance, and its steady rhythm is broken. After the plane has passed, the disks resume their steady, purposeful transmission.

San Jose Semaphore is a slow-motion magnifier for data transmission that functions as a beacon in the San Jose skyline. Unlike digital signals that pass invisibly through the air and across microscopic circuitry, the San Jose Semaphore’s communication efforts are visible and clear.

Location: San Jose, CA

Photos of San Jose Semaphore on Flickr

And below is a slide show with a few images:


1.  Huffington Post