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A TV made from TV remote controls
January 30, 2013 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Chris Shen built a low-resolution video display called Infra using the infrared LEDs of an array of 625 remote controls.

The remotes are controlled with a Peggy 2 light-emitting pegboard kit. The arist's page. The piece is currently on exhibit at 18 Hewett Street in London.
posted by exogenous (38 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha!
posted by cortex at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2013


That evilmadscientist shop is worth the price of admission alone. Totally cool stuff!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:07 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find this type of art very remote.
posted by fairmettle at 10:08 AM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


'low-resolution' seems like just a little bit of an understatement...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pareidolia and our tendency to see humans are worth a thousand pixels.
posted by exogenous at 10:16 AM on January 30, 2013


I was thinking that the picture should be visible in person if you watch it through your phone, but I just tried pointing my iPhone 5 at some remotes in action and got nothing. They must be putting better IR filters on digital cameras these days.
posted by w0mbat at 10:20 AM on January 30, 2013


I bet the remote control for it is really clunky, though
Since it would be made out of a tv
posted by oulipian at 10:20 AM on January 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, TV controls the remote.
posted by jquinby at 10:32 AM on January 30, 2013


The narration (at about the 25 second mark of the Vimeo video) made me laugh.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 AM on January 30, 2013


this somehow reminded me of trying to watch scrambled pay-cableTV when I was a kid
posted by ninjew at 10:50 AM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Chris Shen Science Monitor Unlikely Candidate for Pulitzer Prize.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:51 AM on January 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Another case of A for concept, F for execution. If the video had been even close to recognizable this would have been much, much, better. Maybe try it with several thousand remotes.
posted by rocket88 at 10:58 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


this somehow reminded me of trying to watch scrambled pay-cableTV when I was a kid

I suspect there is an entire generation of men with hallucinatory sex fetishes because of scrambled pay tv porn.
posted by srboisvert at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh it's an art project. In that case the low resolution is probably meant to symbolize man's dwindling sense of community in a corporate world juxtaposed with the artist's commentary on middle-class aesthetic sensibilities.
Carry on.
posted by rocket88 at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is that axe you're grinding sharp enough yet, rocket88?
posted by slater at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2013


Axe? Not sure what you mean, slater.
I originally took this as an actual attempt to play video on an array of IR LED remotes, which it failed to do. I only later saw that it was an art exhibit.
posted by rocket88 at 11:53 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another case of A for concept, F for execution. If the video had been even close to recognizable this would have been much, much, better. Maybe try it with several thousand remotes.

This comment made me laugh, too, and indicates the project is a success as an art installation.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:55 AM on January 30, 2013


And then I read rocket88's clarification. Carry on.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:55 AM on January 30, 2013


Is that axe you're grinding sharp enough yet, rocket88?

Maybe try it with a finer grit sharpening stone and some proper lubrication. Or just slap a placard on it and call it a "found sculpture."
posted by contraption at 11:59 AM on January 30, 2013


I like how it looks machine-like and menacing, yet randomly put together and inscrutable, dis-uniform enough to be mechanistically ambiguous. Something very unsettling here. I love this art!
posted by telstar at 12:05 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why did he need to solder connectors to each remote so the frame could be disassembled?

Couldn't he just attach the remotes to the frame, and let the installation ship as one piece?
posted by schmod at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2013


Also, this Calvin & Hobbes strip linked to in another thread this morning springs to mind.

Why do we accept this as legitimate art, when it'd be resoundingly rejected for technical incompetence if it were a hobby project? I know that it's not supposed to be practical, but it doesn't really seem to accomplish the thing that it set out to do either. It's an array of infrared lights that flash with no recognizable pattern.

Would an art museum display my painting if I had a really cool idea, but fairly mediocre painting skills?

I get that this is supposed to be profound, but is it really the best that we can do? I'm pretty sure that most of Greg Nog's tweets are more profound than this is.

Man, I just don't get art any more.
posted by schmod at 12:18 PM on January 30, 2013


Yeah. I hate art too. Thanks for the validation on that one, Metafilter.
posted by TurkishGolds at 12:24 PM on January 30, 2013


The linked video looks better with my glasses off. The last FPP video I was able to say that about was the one with the spider and the parasite, but that one was even better with my eyes shut.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:24 PM on January 30, 2013


Would an art museum display my painting if I had a really cool idea, but fairly mediocre painting skills?

Depends on whether the curator considered the output interesting on its merits aside from technical skill. There's lots and lots of conceptual art in the world that is more about the idea being executed than about the technical proficiency with which it has been executed. Art is complicated and is not by any means something isomorphic with engineering, and treating this like a poorly-executed attempt to create a high-fidelity display seems like a very, very narrow and specific lens through which to evaluate it.

It's an array of infrared lights that flash with no recognizable pattern.

To be fair, I think that's as much down to the choice of video as anything, and the choice in that case (in the bit of footage shown in the links) seemed motivated more by audio content than by video.

Something with broad shapes and stark greyscale contrasts would probably come through quite well—basically anything that'd work as favicon-sized animated gif would be pretty visually coherent.

See also e.g. Quake in a terminal window as ASCII-art, for the ways in which that both does and does not work. See also rasterized mosaics viewed up close vs. from a distance. Playing with and mismatching resolution is an effect in and of itself.
posted by cortex at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2013


Hey, it involved more skill and effort than hiring various tradesmen to suspend a shark in a vat of formaldehyde for you, and look how that went. I bet the remotes won't even rot and have to be surreptitiously replaced.
posted by localroger at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2013


That's *my* Peggy2. I donated it to him last year. Sounded like a massive pile of work at the time and it's amazing to see he got this project working. Very cool :)
posted by public at 12:37 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The original model was lost, but later recovered between the couch cushions.
posted by dr_dank at 12:39 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get that this is supposed to be profound, but is it really the best that we can do?

Well I believe that this project was originally meant to coincide with some digital TV switchover event in the UK so this is also broadcast media oligarchy propaganda. I think it's pretty interesting as Art though, but then I like the whole New Aesthetic thing so what do I know?
posted by public at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2013


Couldn't he just attach the remotes to the frame, and let the installation ship as one piece?

How would you then be able to steal the batteries out of a remote for use in your walkman?
posted by orme at 12:55 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would an art museum display my painting if I had a really cool idea, but fairly mediocre painting skills?

Hell yes. Have you not been to an art museum? Art is not all about technique.
posted by GuyZero at 1:05 PM on January 30, 2013


Something with broad shapes and stark greyscale contrasts would probably come through quite well—basically anything that'd work as favicon-sized animated gif would be pretty visually coherent.

Yes. And the fact that the light from the remotes is nonuniform and spaced out doesn't help much. On a stock Peggy2 video looks a lot better, but still very low-fi.

aubilenon and I made a demo on a Peggy2 a few years ago and I think it turned out pretty great with the low resolution.
posted by zsazsa at 1:24 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would an art museum display my painting if I had a really cool idea, but fairly mediocre painting skills?

You are probably more likely to have your work shown in a gallery than in a museum, but yes. Especially if you had a series of such really cool ideas, and were good at articulating your ideas in writing as well. Technical skill as the sole criteria of the quality of an artist's work started to fade about 100 years ago, starting with Duchamp. Contemporary art is about ideas. Watch the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, it's excellent and demonstrates this idea quite well.
posted by oulipian at 1:53 PM on January 30, 2013


Fucking brilliant.
posted by dbiedny at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2013


For some reason known only to my malfunctioning brain, I initially read the artist's name as Charlie Sheen. Which just made it seem really, really bizarre.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:52 PM on January 30, 2013


I thought this was pretty cool too.

It's an array of infrared lights that flash with no recognizable pattern.

Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I thought that it was showing the video that goes with the audio, just that it's so lo-res that you can't see the images.
posted by sneebler at 3:24 PM on January 30, 2013


schmod: "Also, this Calvin & Hobbes strip linked to in another thread this morning springs to mind.

Why do we accept this as legitimate art, when it'd be resoundingly rejected for technical incompetence if it were a hobby project? I know that it's not supposed to be practical, but it doesn't really seem to accomplish the thing that it set out to do either. It's an array of infrared lights that flash with no recognizable pattern.
"

I have pretty much decided if it is something incomprehensible to me that people are talking about, it is art. Or I am cocooning myself in self-defense.

I mean, some people say the goal of art is to provoke a response from the audience, which this is apparently doing. So then it is art, right?
posted by Samizdata at 7:17 PM on January 30, 2013


very nice
posted by johnny novak at 10:46 PM on January 30, 2013


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