hand cranked digital matt gorbet






This is the first in a series of interactive electronic sculptures that I began in 1998. The project explores our relationship with digital technology by creating physical devices which link hand-powered clockwork and digital systems.

The Hand-Cranked Digital Counter couples a hand-powered generator with a microcontroller, providing power and also clocking pulses, so that the execution of the microcontroller's program is directly coupled to the user's mechanical actions. Cranking lights up numbers in sequence in the Nixie Tube displays. If the user cranks harder, the system responds faster, brighter.

The microcontroller is essentially a reprogrammable 'gear', whose program determines its behaviour. But it is inextricably tied to the physical. Like its mechanical influences, the device is self-contained, stand-alone, and could still function if discovered in some attic in 12 years.

I've used 'sculptural electronics' to express my vision of organic, interesting circuitry. The counter uses Nixie-tube neon displays, a technology that disappeared in the early 70s but captures elegantly the boundary between digital and analog worlds. Click on the pictures to load detailed versions.