Media Technology MSc

Big Mean Steam Machine (2004)

Big Mean Steam Machine Our first idea was to work on a project that combines old and new technology. To do that it’s important to know what exactly makes technology ‘old’ or ‘new’. We decided to ask that question to our classmates on the first project-presentation and we got some interesting answers. Someone thought that ‘old’ technology could be explained as big machines that can only do one simple little thing. We also got the question if we didn’t mean ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ techniques instead of ‘old’ and ‘new’. Problem description This made us think about what we precisely wanted to do, why we were interested in that thing called ‘old technology’. It indeed was the charm of those big, handmade machines, which most of the time clearly show what they can actually do, in opposite to those little plastic boxes full of electronics these days. Project Goal So we started thinking again and came to the following idea. We want to build a machine which can do one (for these days simple) modern thing. It will be big, slow, it will make noise and it won’t be very practical. But it will have the charm of these machines of the past and it will look beautiful. We want to make a substitute for a telephone display for displaying sms-messages. It won’t be such a handy digital display your phone has, it will be a big, analog-like machine. Instead of a small digital display, we want to represent every pixel of the screen with a little transparent glass jar, filled with water. To display one character of a word, we will need 5 by 5 (25) jars. We want to have 40 characters displayed at a time, so we will need a construction which consists of a thousand jars. To give the jar it’s color, we will inject colored water into it, which will be done in a way simular to a printer. A filling device will be able to move above the jars and give the injection on a y and x axis. It will fill one jar at the time, which takes a lot of time to complete. This way the message itself will take a while to reveal itself. When a new message has to appear, the water leaves the jars and the filling starts again. Project website