Physical Computing – final project ideas

Im now starting to brainstorm some ideas to implement for the physical computing final. Since we only have 4 or 5 weeks to create something, Im hoping to close in on a plan that I can use as a stepping stone for other projects I do here.

As of now I am between two ideas:

  • A portable light and sound device that is used in conjunction with a performance piece
  • An interactive light that is powered by salt water and is made predominately of reusable / biodegradable materials

The portable performance piece idea I have is most certainly a borrowed one. In 2011 and 2012, I worked on restoring a sculpture developed by Robert Rauschenberg and Bell Labs engineer Billy Kluver. Completed in 1989, they created eight battery powered towers on wheels that lit and produced sound for a dance piece choreographed by Trisha Brown. Both sound and light were controlled by the dancers movement.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.54.34 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.54.42 AM

My idea is to produce a similar portable device or set of devices that create light and sound for a performance piece. In the 1980’s, Rauschenberg’s sculptures certainly had a more futuristic feeling to them than they did in 2012. I think it would be great to take this concept and give it a more modern feel, or at the very least use more contemporary components than photocells, car headlights, and cassette decks. An important part of this project for me would be to make it as portable as possible, while still remaining as scaleable as possible.


My second idea is very different! I have been working on a light operated by saltwater for a few years. My concept for this is rooted in developing a light that can be used by anyone in the world, anywhere in the world that saltwater is available. There are several lanterns and kickstarter projects that operate on saltwater:




My plan would be to utilize the saltwater battery part, but add an interactive element to it, use materials other than plastic, and keep its internal components as simple as possible. I want my project to produce more than simple utility light. It needs to be fun as well. Working with materials that are friendly to the environment is also an important part.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *