From a Tandy TR-S80 to an iMac, punch cards to terabyte hard drives, or super-8 movie projectors to Blue-ray DVD players, the evolution of electronic technology is undeniable, unstoppable and awe-inspiring. In an effort to underscore the impact of technology advancements on our daily lives, element14, a collaborative engineering community and electronics store for design engineers and electronics enthusiasts, today kicked-off a community-driven art installation with artist Ben Innes to construct an exploded electronic device mobile that depicts the monumental progression in electronic technology.

Innes, a Minneapolis-based artist and photographer, is best known for his hanging mobiles made of deconstructed electronics that reveal the interactions taking place among the various components of a device. The concept for the installation commissioned by element14 is to showcase the juxtaposition of two analogous pieces of modern and legacy technology. The entire artistic process – from conception to production to installation – will be captured documentary-style and shared on the element14 community.

The subject matter of Innes’ piece will be determined by the element14 community, where engineers and enthusiasts will have the opportunity to vote on the past and present technologies to be deconstructed. In addition to documenting the artistic process, the project will also provide in-depth technical insight from professional design engineers on what makes the parts work together, how the technology has evolved from when it was originally introduced, as well as viewpoints on future innovations.

“The goal of this project is to observe and celebrate the evolution of electronic technology – from where it started to where we are heading tomorrow,” said Alisha Mowbray, senior vice president of marketing, element14. “We are delighted to be working with Ben on this unique endeavor as it parallels element14’s ongoing efforts to support the exchange of ideas among electronics professionals and underscores our appreciation of design engineering as an art form in itself.”

Voting for the conceptual stage of the project begins March 3 and ends March 18 online at element14. Participating element14 community members will be entered for the chance to win a signed photograph of Innes’ final piece, which is scheduled for unveiling at Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 near San Francisco in May. After the completion of the project, the piece will be donated. element14 is also exhibiting at Maker Faire UK in Newcastle on 12-13 March 2011, where visitors will have a chance to enter a competition to win a Stellaris Robotic Evaluation Board.

At the Electronica exhibition in Europe last November, element14 also supported an art project that conveyed the importance of recycling electronics correctly, through the creation of a sculpture from e-waste.

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