What is it?

This machine uses a large, handmade array of small, numeric displays to show a sequence of numbers.

Using its infrared and microwave motion sensors, it watches for nearby people.

After a certain amount of movement is observed, it slowly fades in a surreal way to a videogame-style display of a car driving along a winding road.

A person moving to one side of the physical machine causes a virtual person to be shown along the side of the road, but no matter what, the car never stops for them.

After movement stops for a while, it slowly cross-fades back to showing numbers.

What was my role in it?

I designed and fabricated this device, with one exception: the circuit boards were fabricated to my design by a PCB factory overseas. I sourced components and assembled the boards by hand with a hot-air rework station. I fabricated its enclosure by gluing laser-cut 3mm plywood, and finishing it with standard woodworking techniques. I wrote the software and drivers, and filled it with lo-fi artwork that I collaged and painted.

How does it work?

There are 336 individual vintage numeric displays attached to 14 display boards, which each have their own display controller. I designed these boards and wrote the driver software for their display controllers. A Raspberry Pi 3 computer runs the overall software, also of my design, which convolves a pixel grid into the very different display signals needed for the 336 numeric displays, each of which is 8-bit grayscale. The multiprocess software uses interprocess communication (pipes and queues) to synchronize signaling for a deep framebuffer and communicate with its peripherals.

How was it made?