Flux Calculators

The four Flux Calculator works reimagine what is one of the most commonly available pairing of photovoltaic and microchip technologies – the solar-powered calculator. A simple but strategic connection made to the circuit board of the calculator converts it into a sound-producing device sensitive to minute changes in light intensity.

These works are part of the Common Ancestor series, exploring the shared technological history of the photovoltaic panel and the integrated circuit (or microchip), both of which have their origins in semiconductor research conducted in the mid-twentieth century. A gulf now separates these two semiconductor schemes – so different in scale, function and complexity – however, these works attempt to bridge that gulf through modification, humour, and a sensitivity to changing environmental factors.


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Particulate Sunset (left) and Foke & Smog (right) flux calculators; solar-powered desk calculators, cable, objects; installation view, In Fields, 55 Sydenham Rd Marrickville NSW 2204 AU, Nov-Dec 2015.


Venerable Aurora flux calculator performance, ArtBar, MCA, Sydney, August 2015. Photos: Jenn Brewer.

A short stint cranking a hand-cranked LED torch provides energy to power a solar-powered desk calculator (to which leads have been attached allowing its electrical functions to be made audible). As the torch uses and therefore loses power over time, it is moved closer and closer to the calculator’s solar cell in order to maintain function, producing audible changes indicating available energy and computing ability.