Modern communication systems have become so advanced that we rarely pause to consider how they work: conversing with someone hundreds or even thousands of miles away is, for many, now a daily occurrence.

For this project, I set out to understand a communication system by abstracting its layers, diagramming it, and creating an Internet connected installation.

Goal: Create a display that explores the principles behind a complex communication system

Deliverable: System Diagram, Communication Code, Interactive Prototype

Created for a Behavior course at CCA, taught by Hugh Dubberly.

As the foundation for exploration, we constructed a rudimentary telegraph using a piece of wood, a nail, two batteries, and a wire. My classmate, Danielle Forward and I designed an alternative to Morse code to use with his device.

The code we created is presented as a variation of three-dimensional cube that is using one kind of signal (short tap) and time. Each letter is assigned a unique sequence of between three and nine taps.

Text to Telegraph

For the end of year show I wanted to allow viewers to interact with this telegraph and be able to explore deconstruction and abstraction communication models.

I wanted it to be wireless and seem magical – hiding new (and complex) technology to emphasis the old.

I used an Arduino Yun, and 2 web services - Temboo and Twilio.

Viewers could text a message to the provided phone number, and the Arduino would check the message queue every 10 seconds for new arrivals. When it received a new message, it encoded it into the code, and the viewer could decode and transcribe it based on the key.


You can see the telegraph in action in this video: