One Recession Watchdog

May 23rd, 2011

Over the last year, I’ve been collaborating with Magnolia Editions on one of their fine-art editions for the artist Enrique Chagoya.

Magnolia’s owner, Don Farnsworth, conceived of the idea of adding animated digital displays to one of Chagoya’s illustrations. The displays show the current national debt and debt per-person and are embedded directly in the artwork itself.

I built the electronics, designed the mechanism and wrote the software that allows the One Recession Watchdog, as its called, to download the necessary financial and census information over a wireless internet connection and display it in real-time. The device also has built-in internet radio and plays audio through a speaker in the back.

Here’s a short video of Chagoya’s final piece, with the florescent display running.

Below is another shot of the back-panel shows the speaker grill, touch-screen control panel and silver reset button.

A bit of the magic revealed. The following shot shows some of the internal wiring and electronics. The device is powered by a Chumby network appliance with modified software and hardware. On the right is the large internal speaker. Visible at the bottom are mounting-plates for the digital displays and the internal cabling. The mechanical components were laser-cut from wood and acrylic and set into a custom bamboo case.

More information is available here.

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