reflection loop / THE POOL /technical description
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Kelly Heaton /
Thank you to Steve Gray, Saul Griffith, Yael Maguire,
Matt Reynolds, Rich Fletcher and many others
for their participation in the engineering of The Pool.


The awake and quiescent states of a Furby™ pixel. A pixel speaks Furbish™ when it is awake.

The pixels of The Pool are made from the 1999 Limited Edition Christmas Furby™, modified to reveal only the eyes and mouth in a softened triangular shape. Each pixel is actuated by a motor to achieve two visible states, open (and talking) or closed (and silent). The pixels are augmented with a PIC16F873 microcontroller that prompts the Furby™ to speak in response to viewer proximity, as determined by an infrared detection system. Although the Furby™ pixels retain their original logic, the added microcontroller is programmed to control their behavior in an unorthodox manner. Furby™ normally has sensors that respond to physical interaction by a human or another Furby™, such as tummy tickling, back rubbing and infrared communication. Our modifications make the Furby™ "think" these inputs are occurring even though the inputs are fully simulated by custom software. In other words, Furby™ meets virtual reality and we have full control over a talking, animatronic pixel (software engineered by Steve Gray).

According to the lifespan waranty on a Furby™, the living artwork has a guaranteed lifespan of 3 months continuous operation. As the Furby™ pixels wear out over time, a static composition is left behind: the residual of user reflection.

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