Freeforming electronic circuits is a growing trend that hearkens back to the early days of point-to-point wiring for analog devices, with an added retro-futuristic cyberpunk aesthetic for good measure. The style works particularly well for retro tech, as it highlights the innards of old-school analog circuits. When Emily Velasco got her hands on an early ’80s Canon camcorder, she knew the miniature CRT viewfinder would be perfect for an interactive freeform sculpture.
Until LCDs became affordable in the mid-to-late ’90s, most camcorders utilized tiny CRT (cathode-ray tube) displays for the viewfinder, which is the same tech that powered your old boxy tube TV. By modern standards, a CRT seems absurdly bulky for a portable device, but camcorder manufacturers had to work with the technology that was available. CRTs also have a grainy, low-resolution picture; but, for makers with a particular taste, their high-voltage analog nature is irresistible.
Velasco’s project started with removing the actual tube from the camcorder. It’s fairly self-contained, so she was able to treat it as a module. It requires a composite video input, so she used an inexpensive, off-the-shelf CCTV camera to feed it video. She then constructed the frame from 1/8 inch brass rods, which are readily available at hobby stores and can be easily soldered together. With the addition of a battery pack, switch, and power LED, she was done! The result is a sculpture that acts like an analog mirror, but looks like a work of art.