"Sid" at Darwin Fridge Festival, August 2010

  • 20 August 2010
  • Bong Ramilo

Mesh-Frontline artists worked on a fridge as a contribution to the first Darwin Fridge Festival (Yes, Fridge), 20-21 August 2010. The collaborators were: Krystin Dix, Adam Perfrement, Barry Robinson, Bong Ramilo, Sam Wilson, Dick Whittington. Read on for the description of the project, by Sam Wilson.

The fridge and the television have served as information and communication hubs of the lounge-room for a long time now -- we put notes up on our fridges and we watch the TV to entertain and inform us.
So, we thought we would play around with this idea and modernise our communications utilising wireless Internet and Social media. As well as a bit of interactivity (via Peek-a-Boo), which you don't get with your typical fridge or TV. Peek-a-Boo is written in the Processing language as a basic example of face detection.

Our fridge project has been dubbed "Sid". It is named after a popular GNU/Linux operating system and its testing branch Debian unstable. We feel this is appropriate for the fridge as we did not exactly follow a clear path during its development.

Sid contains an evolution of computing processing. To power the "Peek-a-boo" application, we have a fairly common HP DC7100 desktop that you would find in any office (this machine was donated by Charles Darwin University).

The more geeky and green applications are powered by a FIT-PC2 and an Arduino microcontroller. The FIT-PC2 is a small Israeli-built extremely low power computer that runs on approximately 90% less power than the HP desktop running "Peek-a-boo". We are using the FIT-PC2 to run a GNU/Linux based operating system to show off an "old school" form of art known as ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) art. That is to say, the art of using standard keyboard characters to create an image. In this case the image is a stream of information from a location in the Netherlands (towel.blinkenlights.nl) which sends an ASCII version of the Lucas Arts Film - Star Wars.

The Arduino microcontroller is an even lower powered device which is built around the idea of Open Source hardware and software. We have developed an application to read election tweets (anything tagged as #ausvotes) from Twitter and then display it on the TV. This device is actually in contact with a server from America to bring you the text you see on the screen.

The TV may display "Connection Conroyed.., Need more NBN" at times. While not technically correct it is an amusing dig at two major political issues in the up coming (and previous) Federal election, these being: the rollout of the National Broadband Network (having optic fibre to the home is not a bad thing) and the proposed idea of ISP level filtering (which is a bad thing) as pushed by Senator Stephen Conroy.
Please feel free to grab any of the contributors to the project to explain in more depth.

Sid is an Open Source Fridge by The Mesh and Frontline. It is inspired by the role of the fridge as communication centre.