Project

LedWall -- Make it, then Use it
LEF Cubes

Description: The LiteWall is a collaborative project by the students and alumni of the Digital Media Department (CADRE) at San Jose State University, where participants who help make the large LED display, also make the content for it. Intentionally self-referencing, the project was designed to be a bigger-than-life-size LED display, as well as a record of those who built it. From the individuals who built the structure and assembled its electronic parts, to the complex network of companies near and far who provide the design and fabrication of electronics, the people and many networks who were involved in its construction, are represented in each individual LED cube or 'pixel' with a likeness of them – a unique ‘pixel’ corresponding to each participant involved. The ability for each person who works on the wall to share in the outcome and eventual completion of the project, celebrates the idea of the 'do it together' movement, perhaps in contrast to the more familiar gap between the unknown makers of electronics and the consumers who use them. 

Process: Each participant is given the 'privilege' of building their own 7" square pixel, adding it to the wall. From soldering PC boards, to gluing boxes and wiring; one can have their brief stint at role playing the far off assembly-line worker, who makes our modern day gadgets. Using the computer station beside the larger LED wall, each person's 'pixel' can be called up, and their 'tweet-like' text statement will crawl across the wall, sending their message up in lights. During its installation, there will be several workstations for people to build more cubes, inviting more to join in and adding to the growing wall, as more contributors are made visible. 

The wall is comprised of various parts and processes. A donation of LEDs by Phillips, an assortment of older junk from Silicon Valley’s large depots of old and obsolete electronics hardware. The physical structure of light boxes that make the wall are all fabricated by laser cutters. Lastly, the Arduino, currently the DIY platform of choice,  and online PCB fabricators, provides the accessible and customizable backbone in which to control the wall.

The project has its inspiration from the technical challenges of scaled-up production and the dialogue of electronic design and manufacturing in the current global economy. For artists, to transition from singular objects, to creating multiples on a larger scale, brings different skills and sensibilities. Where one pixel is simply a light, a multitude of pixels creates an image platform and display. To scale up in size also means to become aware and focused not just on fabrication and craftsmanship, but also manufacturing systems, quality control, parts sourcing, and interfacing with services from all over the globe. The mystique of  Silicon Valley, its past and present, also becomes an interesting backdrop in realizing the complex nature of all global vs. local manufacturing. This 'illustration in process' will give participants the experience of building and contributing to a unique self-contained display, and the community that is formed around it. 

Bio: The LiteWall started out as a class project, spring of 2012 and since evolved in a collaboration by the students and alumni of the  CADRE Laboratory for New Media at San Jose State University. The groups focus has been on research into designers and manufactures of high-tech materials, and the role of  consumers versus makers of electronic devices in their art works. A prototype version of  LiteWall  has been shown at the 2012 Maker Faire in San Mateo. 

The Project Team:
Scott Blackwell
Steve Durie  -Instructor and Team Lead
Rodrigo Farruguia
Kyungwha Lee
Bryant Nguyen
Eliza Ranjeet
Chatchai Sinia
Travis Stebbins
Jillian Strahler
Yumika Tanaka 

Special thanks
Art Dept. San Jose State University
Office of Cultural Affairs
Phillips Lumileds

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