Pi - work details
Ken Lum, Pi, Media Installation,
7 Mirastar half-mirror elements, size 1,500/2,490 to 2,800
7 Mirastar half-mirror elements, size 1,500/2,000 to 2,400
15 LED panels with a red 7- to 15-digit display and figures
75 mm high
1 LED panel with a red 10-digit display and figures 150 mm
Etched texts and figures
1 room showcase made of glass, size 3.2 x 1.3 m
(Books, brochures, printed material 1880 –2006)
The number pi
The number pi, after which the project is named, refers
circle and stands symbolically for the world and its
changing appearance. Pi is the ratio of circle perimeter
circumference. The resulting number is written with the
letter π (pi), as it cannot be represented as the relation
integers, i.e. as a fraction. Pi is an irrational and transcendent
number with infinitely many decimal places which do not
a repetitive pattern. Since decimal places cannot be counted,
pi is of greater mathematical infinity than rational numbers
thus stands allegorically for the entire world. Just as
numbers contain non-countable numbers such as pi, the
world contains the infinitely dense space of the symbolic.
though the number pi is central for calculating the circle
sphere it has also pervaded statistics through the Gaussian
normal distribution. In physics pi plays a role in addition
movement of circles, mainly in waves, since it is integrated
there in the calculations through the sinus and cosine
In quantum mechanics, the formula of the Heisenberg uncertainty
relation contains the circle number.
The number pi, the over-arching element of the installation,
has been etched onto a multi-piece glass wall as a fixed
of numbers with 478 places after the comma. The last
ten places calculated by the computer appear on a LED display.
Factoid 1: Malnourished Children in the World
Malnourishment interacts in a complex way with resources
and health care. Here it describes the number of malnourished
children worldwide. This figure shows a slight decrease
there are still more than 120 million malnourished children
Factoid 2: Viennese in Love Today
The Canadian sociologist John Alan Lee describes six styles
of love of which one shows the greatest converges with the
everyday understanding of being in love. This style of love
(“eros“) was also tested in the Marburg Inventory
The results could be applied to the Viennese population to
the number of persons in love.
Factoid 3: People Killed in War since January 1
The number of people killed in war has been retrospectively
calculated by the Peace Research Institute at the University
of Uppsala. A prediction for the coming years was made on
the basis of the values of the past five years.
Factoid 4: Paid Hours Worked by Austrians since January 1
More than 5.5 billion hours worked are paid yearly in Austria.
This amount refers to the hours worked by employed persons
in their main job.
Factoid 5: HIV Infections Worldwide since January 1
The number of persons who are becoming infected with HIV
every year is on the rise. UNAIDS has predicted 4.3 million
infections for 2006.
Factoid 6: Amount of Garbage Produced in Vienna
since January 1 (in Tons)
The predictions for the amount of garbage produced are
based on data provided by the Viennese Environmental
Department (MA 22) which is accessible to the public at www.wien.gv.at/umweltschutz
Factoid 7: People Dissatisfied with their Jobs in Austria
The working climate index does quarterly assessments of the
job satisfaction of Austrian employees. It constitutes the
basis of these calculations.
Factoid 8: World Population
Statistically, the world population is growing by 2,566 per second. The data
necessary for the prediction were provided by the German Foundation for World
Population and are based on the analyses of the Population Reference Bureau
Factoid 9: Growth in the Sahara Desert (in Hectares) since
The extent of land degradation in the area surrounding the Sahara was taken
into account in the scientific data on the desertification process. This information
is used to describe the growth of the Sahara.
Factoid 10: Books Borrowed in Vienna since January 1
In Vienna more than 8 million books are borrowed a year in public libraries
and university libraries. The opening hours were taken into consideration
in the calculation.
Factoid 11: People Killed or Maimed in Landmines since
Since 2003 the “Landmine Monitor”, published by the international
campaign for the ban of landmines, has reported an annual 15,000 to 20,000
landmine victims per year.
Factoid 12: Schnitzels Eaten in Vienna since January 1
The AMA questioned persons living in Austria on the number of schnitzels eaten.
To obtain a realistic figure, the schnitzels eaten by tourists had to be
included in the results.
Factoid 13: Days until Chernobyl is Considered Safe for
The half-value time of the alpha-radioactive element Americium-241 – which
amounts to about 432 years and 73 days – was used to measure the days
until Chernobyl is considered for human habitation.
Factoid 14: Amount of Money Spent on Military Armament
since January 1 (in Euro)
Predictions were made on the amount of money that will be spent on armament
in the coming years on the basis of data from the Stockholm International Peace
Research Institute (SIPRI).
Books / Brochures / Printed Material from 1888 to 2006
The design of the showcase reflects a working situation on
library table. Books are arranged in blocks or piles, some
them are open or marked and closed. Archimedes’ theory
which the number pi is based, appears here in the form of
book and as a reference to the historical dilemma of “squaring
the circle”. Recent standard books on the calculation
statistical and demographic values lead to the more general
theme of the showcase. The focal point of the simulated
scientific number and data research is the theme of migration.
A cross-section of publications from statistics institutes,
inter- and non-governmental institutions suggest reading
on studies and demographic surveys for Vienna and Austria
and further to Europe and the entire world. Loans of the
of Vienna’s Office for Analysis and Statistics lead
19th century to the present day. The “International
Outlook Annual Report 2006” of the OECD and “World
Migration 2005. Costs and Benefits of International Migration”
of the IOM are some of the most important international
reports presented here.