Payphone Update

I finally have 90% of the parts to build the payphone into another dimension. I’m sticking with a twilight zone theme fro the moment.




In the default state, the display is completely off. Occasionally the phone will ring, inviting people to come pick up the handset. When the handset is off the hook, you might discover that someone or something is trying to contact you from another universe. I’ve been thinking of mashing up content from The Twilight Zone.

Honestly, I’m a bit stuck on how much of this I want to be pre-sequenced vs user input. I imagine you could have some fun dialing numbers like 666.


Here are the things I’ve implemented so far.

  • Payphone shell: removed all the electronics (not operable without a Millennium payphone server)


  • Telephone handset audio: connects to the computer successfully
  • Ambient audio: also connected to the computer. Reusing the ‘fake ringer’ port


  • Ringer: I discovered this model doesn’t have a physical ringer, I’m installing a traditional two bell ringer and using a stage control device to activate it. (it’s surprisingly a complex process to ring a telephone)


  • Ringer hook: I can determine if the phone is off the hook
  • Main video display: Installed. I believe I need to remake the information insert to fit the project better?
  • Keypad: All the buttons work now. Because it’s not a traditional layout, it took me a few days to figure out how the matrix works. Lots of fun with the multimeter.




  • Easter egg: I don’t want to give this one away just yet, but it’s video related.

Initially I wanted to run the device using a Raspberry Pi, but I discovered you can’t run both the HDMI and RCA video out at the same time. Which is pretty necessary for my concept. I’m using a Leonardo so I can translate phone key presses to keyboard presses on the computer, perhaps later that will be a Pi. This would be really awesome as a self contained unit.



Video Readymade: The Trophy Shot

Found footage from Mossback hunting show on The Legend Channel.

Hunting, in itself, is bizarre to me.  I’ve been fishing and I know the primal thrill in those small struggles against another life form, but when you add guns and stalking and distance and camouflage the associations with war and the awareness of killing something sentient become very stark.   So my hours spent mining hunting shows for video assets to use in my Video Readymade Final Project were disconcerting and surreal.  There is a mixture of jubilation and earnest gratitude in this footage that captivates and unsettles me.

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Video Readymade: Version 1 Documentation & Feedback


User-testing of my video installation.

In my first Video Readymade post I laid out the concept inspired by Internet Hunting and showed the results of my first experiments.  Once all of the parts arrived, I was able to combine the elements and see what worked and what didn’t.  Unfortunately the endoscopic camera I wanted to use was just too-low-quality to give a compelling effect.  Fortunately I was able to mount a webcam onto the miniature rifle.


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Emotional Readymade: Feral Potter

Feral Potter: a speculative animatronic from Nick Hubbard on Vimeo.

The question that initiated my Emotional Readymade project was “what would happen if books were abandoned to fend for themselves?”  I at first assumed they would be lonely or desperate, but then my classmate Nick Bratton suggested that maybe they would break down mentally, go insane, or feral.  I liked that.  I liked the idea of showcasing a range of potential effects of isolation, from fits and rages to catatonia to hyperlalia.  Almost like the saddest form of retirement home or other neglected institution you can imagine.

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Documentation: Catcalling Surveillance Cam

After a couple weeks of waiting, I got the proper mount for my surveillance camera and was finally able to install + document it.

I made the circuit wireless and was able to easily house everything inside the camera enclosure (the only cords were from the webcam / computer but those can go elsewhere). The final video documentation is in progress (I’ll post in the next couple of days) but in the meantime here are a couple of images.

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Video Readymade: the act of (internet) hunting


I was inspired for our Video Readymade assignment to revisit a provocative blip in the history of the internet.  In 2005 would-be Texas entrepreneur John Lockwood registered, a site devoted to Internet Hunting.  This is the practice of hunting animals remotely via motor-controlled firearms, targeted using webcams.

A photo of Lockwood with his set-up. 

Allegedly Lockwood’s enterprise was the only one of its kind, and it caused such a backlash from all sides of the political spectrum (hunting associations, animal right’s activists, gun control and gun rights lobbyists)  that 48 states now have laws banning the activity.  Lockwood’s defense is couched in a provocative question: “what is the difference in [hunting concealed and camouflaged behind a blind] and clicking a mouse? Nothing. That is the same exact motion, and it takes the same amount of time.”

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Stock Footage VR

My proposed concept for my video readymade and eventual final project is called “What in the world do you want to see?” The idea is to use an old View Master to transport the wearer into a rudimentary virtual reality environment created from stock footage of faraway places.

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A couple of weeks ago, I became interested in the idea of using stock footage with the watermark left on it. Stock imagery is interesting to me because it functions as an empty vessel in which people can insert meaning through the act of buying and recontextualizing it to signify whatever they want. The watermark visually signifies this. Stock footage of an exotic beach is both no place and any place at the same time.

The View Master interested me initially because I like to think about devices for seeing and ways in which they draw our attention to it. I’d been thinking a bit about virtual reality, and then it occurred to me that I could hack the old View Master toy and have it function as a rudimentary VR headset for playing footage in a way that is more immersive. I created a system diagram for my proposed project to show what the user flow is and how all the parts will work together.

My idea is use the viewfinder to show POV stock footage (with the watermark still on it) of exotic locations and vacations and far away places by converting 2D to 3D stereoscopic footage. The hope is to tap into the cultural / historical purpose of the View Master (and earlier stereoscopic imaging devices), which was to take you to a faraway place or transport you somewhere else. An example of the footage made into side-by-side stereoscopic is below, along with some links to other clips that might work:

I did some prototyping yesterday using a Google cardboard (since my View Master hasn’t arrived yet) and did a lot of research about stereoscopic imaging, and ways to convert 2d footage into stereoscopic 3d. I also read about the history of the View Master and thought about it as a cultural / historical precedent to VR. My biggest challenges, I think, will be figuring out how to convert 2d footage to stereoscopic convincingly, and also how to recreate the effect of the View Master using small LCD screens embedded in the device.


Embedding video into objects

For the video assignment, Leslie and I chose a window (with 6 panes) as our object. Partly inspired by Andrea Wolf, we will hang the window pane in in middle of a room. We will project images from security cameras that capture seemingly private moments, exploring the tension between inside and outside/private and public through the imagery. Because of how the piece is installed, viewers will be able to see one another / look in each others eyes through the piece.

portrait of a porn star


“Portrait of a Porn Star” is a mixed-media prototype of…a portrait of a porn star, made of acrylic, resin, super glue, plastic bonding, twine, keys, brass dust, cellophane, various electronic components, a microcontroller, and a computer fan.


The idea was to give the user (yeah, user) the ability switch on the fan, causing a swirl of brass dust and cellophane to blow throughout the box, upon the lock being turned. The design flaws are such that I think I will have to build an entirely new one from scratch. I’ll need multiple fans, each maybe even stronger than the one I used in this version, and to have them affixed to the bottom acrylic face, blowing up through some kind of system.