Penelope or, the Endless Loom
A Behemoth Press project for The Supreme Achievement, a workshop organised at CAMPO in Rome by Maria Giudici (Black Square) and Davide Sacconi with contributions by Amid/Cero9, Aristide Antonas, Behemoth, Dogma, Didier Faustino, FORA+ Beth Hughes, MAPOffice, Alex Maymind, Microcities, Miniatura, Philippe Morel, Raumlabor and photos by Antonio Ottomanelli.
PenelopeTM is the leading product of Ithaca Co., to a machine to “make and do almost anything.” As one can read in the company's mission, “Penelope is a modern, user-friendly decision making and data management system for nonprofits, governments, health, military and social services agencies that is secure, fully integrated and highly configurable.”
Penelope is today 100% powered by renewable energies—aeolic, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric. It is composed by a score written on a loop tape containing an indefinite number of arrays of random-access memory cells, which can move in either directions, and Moog, a programmable roll which executes a variable set of instructions over the cells.
The core of the system is constituted by the Turk, a central processing unit which programs Moog and composes any available data on the cells of the tape: mortgage interest rates, bird migrations, basal temperatures, world university rankings, the concentration of cocaine in the sewage water.
The Turk, designed by the CEO of Ithaca during his 20s as part of his Master's thesis, was deemed in the beginning as the hoax of a clumsy circus impostor. Journalists denounced that the Turk's automatic virtuosism was in fact that of employees of the Company, which operated it as a puppet...