Creative Commons licensed photograph, "Underwood," by Flickr user Canned Muffins

Lab 11

Electronic Texts

Fieldbook Prompt

We began this semester working with historical, analogue textual technologies. In the past few weeks we’ve moved into the digital space, working with code in the R programming language. While we often talk about computers as if they are immaterial—talking about “the cloud” for instance—they are every bit as physical as manuscripts and printing presses. Recently the “internet of things” has made this reality more palpable, linking the internet to objects from speakers to light bulbs to refrigerators.

Often discussions of “electronic texts” center on screens: ebooks or online reading experiments. There’s much of interest in those text, but today we’ll be exploring electronic texts in another key by creating paper circuits. We’ll be using conductive copper tape, coin cell batteries, LEDs, and sticker circuits to design and create texts that light up and respond to basic kinds of input. Were we taking things a step farther, we could even get programmable circuits that would allow us to integrate code & paper art even more fully, but our work today will hopefully enrich your ideas about how text and electronics might come together to make artistic works.

At the beginning of class I’ll show you a few samples I’ve made. But unlike the other labs this semester, I’m pretty new to paper circuits myself, and excited about exploring them and learning alongside you! Here are some resources you might consult today as you experiment:

And there are many, many more ideas online. Let’s get going!

Fieldbook Prompt

Let’s keep things open. Respond to this lab as you will.