Construction Haus proudly hosted Greetings, an experience, in November 2023. The experience consisted of a bunch of awesome people and 4 art installations:
The titular art installation was based around a vintage Commodore 64, bought at a K-Mart in St. John’s, Newfoundland when firetiger was 6. Participants were invited to use either Print Shop or Print Master to produce a greeting, which was then printed on a modern laser printer (yes, a Brother).
To add an element of surprise, the printer was installed on top of a kitchen cabinet with the output aimed down at the C64.
We printed on assorted colours of UV reactive paper because blacklights are installed throughout the basement of Construction Haus. Many participants took their greetings home with them (or gave them to someone else) but many remain here!
Connecting a 39 year old machine to a WiFi / USB printer was fairly difficult, and required special hardware plus custom software:
- An Ultimate-II+L cartridge was used to emulate a Commodore printer connected to the C64’s IEC bus. It also provided virtual disk drives, needed because 5-1/4″ floppies from the 80s are no longer readable.
- Firmware 3.10j was used, plus a patch for a minor telnet bug.
- Custom software written in Python (running on a modern laptop), was developed to control the Ultimate-II. It allowed participants to perform 3 actions using pushbutton controllers built into old toys:
- 🕷 Print the latest greeting:
- “flush” the virtual printer using the telnet interface.
- Retrieve the printed file using ftp.
- Crop and resize the file. (For some reason, this was required to allow the greeting to fold properly without cutting. Even more strangely, different dimensions were needed for Print Shop vs. Print Master.)
- Send the file to the laser printer.
- 🐅 Load Print Shop.
- 🐢 Load Print Master.
- 🕷 Print the latest greeting:
Other hardware used:
- A RetroTINK 2X-Pro was used to connect the C64 to a HDMI monitor.
- A Keelog C64 PSU was used to power the C64, because old Commodore power supplies are no longer reliable (and frequently damage the computers they’re connected to 😬).
- The pushbutton animals were connected to a custom controller built for Fire Tetris, running Firmata.
- The C64 was recased into a Micro Accessories case by firetiger’s parents in the 80s, which is why it looks like a 64C.
New Flame Effect!
Firetiger and gearhead_liz built a new flame effect! It will be installed at L’OsstidBurn 2024, but in the meantime it is stored fully assembled (without fire, for hopefully obvious reasons) in the basement of Construction Haus.
The frame is made from 2″ square tubing found in a dumpster outside a factory in Montréal. The effect head is made of 2″ schedule 80 blackpipe, which is strong enough to support art. (More flame effects, even.)
We’ll probably add more effect heads before we exhibit it outdoors.
Supercat was amazing but you had to be there.
Annex Shifted was a LED-based installation. Strip LEDs, generously lent by a friend, were installed in the back yard of Construction Haus by Mike Townsend. Unfortunately firetiger did not have time to reprogram the LED controller (and neglected to open things up so that others could program it), so it ran a program they originally designed for The Annex, a chill space that travels to various festivals. The result was still intriguing, especially if you remembered the layout of the previous Annex.