ITP Spring Show 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2-6pm & Monday, May 11, 5-9 pm

Jill Haefele

Circadian Squirrel

A squirrel who marks the passing of each day by removing his head.

Animals, People and Those In Between,Persuasive Technologies: Designing the Human

The circadian squirrel is an alternative timepiece that is based on ideas of biological time, cycles, repetition, and death.

Like a cuckoo clock, the Circadian Squirrel becomes animated to mark the passage of time. Rather than marking the hours of a traditional clock however, the squirrel responds only to the rising and setting sun. All animals have an internal clock - a circadian rhythm - that is set by the sun. The squirrel removes his head at sunset and puts it back on at sunrise. To catch the squirrel in motion you must watch him at exactly the right point in the day.

I was interested in exploring our relationship to death and nature by re-purposing a taxidermied animal. In a sense, taxidermy is a way to cheat death by preserving the illusion of life. I wanted to animate the squirrel in a way that would break that illusion at certain times of the day.

It is made out of a taxidermy squirrel (originally roadkill from Illinois). Servo motors connected to an arduino control its movements and a processing sketch determines sunrise and sunset. I plan to let people interact with the squirrel by triggering the time of sunrise and sunset on a traditional clock.