Random Screen is a mechanical thermodynamic screen that the user can’t control and that functions without any electricity. Conventional tea candles illuminate and generate the changes on the 4x4 pixel screen.
This work is one of a series of low-tech screen projects that was originally inspired by the Blinkenlights media façade of the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin. The predecessor of Random Screen is the Papierpixel project in which a manual screen was controlled by a punched tape system that had to be pre-programmed by hand. Random Screen takes the reduction of the electronics one step further. The pixels become independent and fire goes digital.
Each individual pixel of Random Screen is an independent unit. Core components are a projection foil, a modified beer can and a small tea candle.The candle serves as a source of light; at the same time, the warmth it gives off sets the modified beer can in motion. The can, modified into a sort of freely rotating fan mounted above the candle, can spin around freely. The candlelight shines through a window cut in the beer can onto a projection surface and makes the pixel light up. Depending on how fast the fan spins, it gently turns the respective pixel either on or off. The larger the candle’s flame, the brighter the pixel shines and the faster its switching frequency. The candlelight is diffused on a second projection foil in the middle of the pixel box in order to generate as little shadow-flickering as possible on the projection surface. The individual pixel boxes stacked on top of and next to one another form the Random Screen. The modularity of the pixels allows the screen surface to be expanded at will, and this construct’s simple components make it easy for others to copy.
Aram Bartholl 2005