Project, July 2009
Platform for massive, character-based communication using VGA monitors.
Arjan Scherpenisse approaches his graduation work for the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, in a do-it-yourself way. The exhibited installation is a result of a 5-month research process in which Arjan took control of the design and production of an industrial-strength end-product as an art form.
_oneliner is a self-reflexive installation consiting of a long line of interconnected VGA monitors, 64 in total. Each driven by a microcontroller, the monitors form a line of characters, like a giant ticker tape in which each monitor is limited to displaying a single character. The monitors are connected through self-designed and built "open" hardware. The work itself also reflects this openness: all wirings and microchips are exposed to the public's critical inspection.
The texts appearing on the monitors gives an insight into the software that is driving the installation. Texts appear, fragments of code, sometimes with personal comments of the maker. The codes appear and dissappear, meeting and avoiding eachother, in a playful way that is different each time. The rhythm of the movements is almost meditative and reflects the state of mind that is necessary to write this kind of software.
Viewing the installation, the spectator develops an intuitive understanding for the subjective way in which technology is created: doubts, improvisation, sudden insights and moments of doubt are displayed through the choreography and poetical contents of the texts. This way, technology becomes a human activity.
The work does not contain any secrets: all layers of code and hardware were designed, produced and published by the artist, or consist of "open hardware", recycled material and open source components.
_oneliner consists of 64 monitors and 9 boxes with custom electronics. 8 of these boxes are the so-called VGA boards, electronic circuits which can control 8 vga monitors at a time. The remaining box contains an Arduino board with a shield on which extra electronics are placed: an LED, 3 switches, and 2 EEPROM memory modules.
Every VGA monitor is capable of displaying a single character. Every monitor is run by a microcontroller which generates a VGA signal for a specific character. The Arduino is the controller of the installation: it continuously decides which monitor in the row displays which character, thus creating animations. There are 8 possible "programs" which can be run. The program number can be set using the 3 switches on the arduino shield, and pressing the reset button on the arduino. The LED then blinks as an indicator that it is running.
Full technical documentation is available in a booklet, download link is below. The .zip file contains the source code for the project (written in assemblerfor the microcontrollers and in C++ for the Arduino), and the hardware designs which consist of CAD files for Eagle.
For more about me, see http://www.scherpenisse.net/.