Living Art: Analog Text Display
This is the Analog Text Display, an experiment in alternate text display and encoding technologies. It makes text visible not as digital characters, but as voltages, which are displayed by an analog voltmeter. The letter 'a' corresponds to a voltage a little over 0v, while the letter 'z' corresponds to 5v; the other letters are arranged alphabetically between the two. Any punctuation (including whitespace) causes the meter to go to 0v.
The Display reads data from an external source (via serial). Each of the six meters represents a distinct letter. As the display fills up, letters "scroll" off the display to the left.
In making the Analog Text Display, I was trying to imagine different ways to mediate the interfaces between text, display, and user. The ASCII and Unicode encodings that computers use to represent text internally are by no means inherent (see Tom Jennings' annotated history of character codes); the two-dimensional written page—and its electronic analog, the screen—is only one possible way of visually communicating text. (See, among others, fingerspelling and semaphores.) The Analog Text Display gives one possible answer to the question: How might computer displays have developed differently?
More photos and video after the jump.
Close-up of one meter in motion, displaying the text "abcdefg hello world." (QuickTime, 640x480, 0'20)
Full display in action, displaying the first few verses of the KJV Bible. (QuickTime, 640x480, 0'58)
The Analog Text Display was created as a midterm project for Todd Holoubek's Living Art class at ITP.