Repurposing Home Electronics

This hand held gaming controller is a product destined for obsolescence. Is there a heaven for unused devices?

As part of his course on Materiality in the Digital Realm, artist Wolfgang Spahn showed me how to steer the laptop by altering the device. In this example the “numchuk” is operating a small motor while data is simultaneously represented on the computers screen. In other words the devices are communicating with each other.

Rotating Light

This lighting unit is also a combination of optical illusion and physical computing. The unit has been fabricated from surplus Plexiglas and laser cut to form a kit of parts. A rotating wheel at the center forms one of three layers of perforated material. The core is illuminated by LED strips, each programed differently, to provide a variety of hues, intensities and unexpected variations in the outward appearance.

Tactile Surfaces


This video demonstrates the optical effects provided by the double skin of the tube light. When the object is touched, the effect alters in relation to the movement of the hand.

Licht Patrone

The strange optical effects created in the previous experiment, prompted me to produce a second, larger, lighting unit.  This version comprises of two layers of perforated material. The unit is hollow, allowing the light to be seen within and upon the surface simultaneously. This results in an enhanced three-dimensional appearance.

Red, Green and Blue


Returning to the Arduino, I explored how it can be used to control LED lighting. Programming allows the RGB channels to be controlled separately creating very subtle changes in the temperature of white. This means that the LED can offer both warm and cool light and offer variations of intensity preferable to the end user.

Flexible Junctions

A supply of cycle inner tubes enabled us to explore the many ways in which this flexible material can be re-purposed. These fastenings are strong enough to hold rigid components in place. They also enable the object to be deformed or assume a variety of alternative shapes.



Examining one material in great detail prompted us to think about utility but we also became aware of the unique appearance of rubber. These free play exercises produced some very elegant artifacts.