past delocalization in Africa from 28 August till 05 December 2005


Airview on the coastline of Alexandria: The BA is situated at the old harbour.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina - a symbol for the digital age

The Imachinations at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina are one of the first large media art projects in the public space in Egypt. As an internet based project it relates to the history of the library as biggest knowledge knot in the antique and to the new possibilities of the world wide web for the future. As internet based images the Imachinations appear simultaneously in different places. The images keep fugitive, ephemeral and immaterial phenomena. So the Imachinations are a sign for the liberating aspects of the digital age.

sketch for the projection on the neighboured congress center's triangle

The new library with look on the Corniche highway and the bay of Alexandria.

Link between oriental tradition and new media

The abstract circular digital projection in the heart of the metropole reminds by digital means to the old oriental tradition creating patterns. For instance the small stones in mosaics or the knots in the grid of a rug creating a complex imagery often based on simple mathematical rules can be considered as ancestors of the computer pixel. Combining this abstract tradition with new media the Imachinations create a productive irritation and eye catcher in the public space, because today abstract pictures are rarely known in Egypt.

air view on the library and
the congress centre behind


Changing its images only once a day, time plays a particular role. The Imachinations can only be understood as a series in time and not as static pictures. This is why the projection faces the seaside. So the public passing there on the Corniche - the arterial highway for the millions of Alexandrians - can follow the development of the Imachinations night per night.

View from the Corniche - Alexandria's highway at the Mediterranean seaside. Alexandrian communters at the Corniche can follow the daily changes of the projection.


The Imachinations throw light on the relationship between machine, mathematical concepts and the human imagination. Fusing the latin words machina and imaginatio the artifical notion “imachination” symbolizes a new quality of numeric images: At the one hand the code base of numeric images dissolves a static pictorial concept. Images can change and become mobile. At the other hand a new complex relation is created between code and image as two different levels of perception. Not only the final user is involved in this process, but indirectly all the developers of the hard- and software machinery. So numeric images become a performative and highly social product as well.

(circular detail of the architecture by Snøhetta)


The Imachinations create a simple model to explore the complexity of numeric images. Everyone knows the phenomenon, if one throws a stone into the water and observes, how the waves superpose mutually. Quite a similar superposition of two vertical wave patterns builds the visual base of the Imachinations. One of the wave samples changes per day being varied in the colour and in the amount of scales.

Play of the waves in the bassin before the library.

A circular projection: reminiscence to the architecture of the Bibliotheca and the planetarium and as well to the Alexandrian history of Pi.


Step by step the digits behind the decimal point of Pi are used to define the number of scales and the arrangement of colours. Pi, that starts with 3.14, is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. The irrational number appears quasi random because its infinite number of decimal places have no pattern. So Pi let fluctuate the Imachinations between a clear mathematical concept and its apparently accidental visual changes – a play between the visible and the invisible behind.

Reminiscence to the history of the circle number

The Norwegian architects Snoetta created a library architecture making a fusion of western architecture and oriental elements hold together by a large ring-shaped wall. The projection of the Imachinations on the triangular wall part of the neighbouring congress building relates to the round architecture of the Library and the smaller planetarium as well. Historically the project links to Klaudios Ptolemaios as one of the first mathematicians, who made a quite exact approach to Pi with 5 digits: 3.14166. Today trillion places are computed!

three circular formes: shapes of the library, the planetarium & the projection

An excellent projection angle is achieved for the high performance beamer with its positioning under the bridge. Projection distance:41 metres.
concept: Tim Otto Roth
Summer 2005