Home Data Integration UNEX Sign No. 2 (selections from "The Survival Series")

UNEX Sign No. 2 (selections from "The Survival Series"), Jenny Holzer

The National Gallery of Canada Collection, 28793



Quantity Component Note
1 Unex electronic signboard, American Sign & Indicator Corporation, UNX-10-64-240, 23574-051, 092-000-002 The signboard is no longer functional. Some texts appear either partially or not at all. The work is currently undergoing a process of emulation under the artist’s supervision.
1 laptop computer, Toshiba T1000, PA7-27U, 01069640

Processor 4.77 MHz 80C88, 512kB, MS-DOS 2.11, 15 A/120 V/60 Hz


Used since 1991.


3 floppy disk, 3 ½ A

Master floppy disk (1)


Exhibition copies (2)


Used since 1991 with portable computer. The migration of original data from tapes was undertaken by the American Sign & Indicator Corporation.

1 cable Video card port computer-signboard
1 tape cassette player, Mark90, American Sign & Indicator Corporation The original tape cassette player was replaced by a portable computer in 1991 with the artist’s approval.
6 tape cassette, American Sign & Indicator Corporation

Master tapes (2)


Copies (4)


Original cassettes partially demagnetized (no longer functional), replaced by four floppy disks in 1991.




Iconographic Technical Installation


The work is an electronic display signboard, composed of illuminated colour dots (red, green and blue). The signboard is installed on the wall, it dominates over the visitors and displays in a loop a sequence of messages sometimes in French and sometimes in English (text, images, or a combination of both). Sentences appear from left to right, while a sweeping motion moves from right to left in order to leave room for the following sentence.


The Unex electronic signboard is composed of 14 880 perforations (240 horizontal x 62 vertical) arranged at regular intervals and covered with red, blue and green transparent plastic. Behind each perforation, a magnetic disk is made to open or close in order to let through a light source generated by fluorescent tubes.


A vertically oriented mechanical arm is located inside the signboard. When the arm carries out a sweeping action from left to right, it opens selected magnetic disks in order to transmit an image. When the mechanical arm comes back to its initial position (sweeping from right to left), all the disks close again and the sign displays a black frame.


The message sequence (text, images or a combination of both, sweeping and pause timing) was programed by the American Sign & Indicator Corporation according to the artist’s instructions. The message sequence is displayed in a loop. A total of 41 messages is displayed, each one lasting one minute and 23 seconds. The sweeping time is seven seconds for deletion and seven seconds for the appearance of the next message.


The electronic signboard can be hung on a wall at 2.13 m (7 feet) or higher if installed in a considerably large public space in order to respect the advertising characteristics of the work.


Two individual electrical sources are necessary. The computer must not be visible during the exposition.


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