Red Mitsubishi
(Mar, 2016)

A mechatronic installation that consists of eighteen solenoids affixed to the walls of the WaveCave at CalArts. Each set is six solenoids is driven off of a Meepo actuator board; a custom PCB I designed. The program for the piece follows:

Early last semester I totaled my car. It was a minor accident, and no one was hurt. I felt a strange attachment to this car that I had driven for nearly fifteen years, and it felt wrong that I had to discard it merely because it didn't function anymore. So what if there was a hole in the radiator? So what if the bumper fell off? It was still my car, it drove solidly from Texas to California when I first started at CalArts; that's 1500 miles in the cruel summer sun, surely it was deserving of something better.

But I couldn't keep it, I couldn't fix it, I gave it away to charity. Maybe I'm overly sentimental about the whole experience, but in the end it felt like I lost an appendage.

But what would it have meant if I had kept it? In its last state it could turn over, but the radiator would probably overheat if I drove it for more than a few minutes. What would it have meant to have kept an object that had no purpose? I mean, I'm no mechanic, I don't have space for it anywhere. What, then, would its purpose be?

So these things that are attached to the wall, they never strike the wall, but they're poised as they're meant to. They're being over-actuated; driven so hard that they can't finish a complete strike. They get ever so close to striking the wall, but they're being actuated so fast that they retract before hitting the surface.

If they happen to strike the wall, it is definitely outside of my intention of them, but then again I am still definitely allowing for that contingency. I mean, it'd be impossible not to. These things aren't perfect, they break, the caps on them get unscrewed, the zip ties slide back and forth, the programming is ripe with human error, etc.

Then if these things on the wall, if they strike the wall, have they failed my prescribed purpose of them not striking the wall? When my Mitsubishi was killed after 15 years, should I have found a new purpose for it? Did I find a purpose by giving it away?

  • March 28, 2016