Honors College Students Create Innovative Electronic Art in Response to Quarantine

Person washing their hands

Monday, May 18, 2020

Harriet L. Wilkes Honors students enrolled in ART4654C Honors Electronics and Electronic Objects for Art this spring worked to create electronic projects that are poetic and innovative.

Students learned how to create electronic objects with sensors and motors during the course and prepare files for 3D printing and laser cutting. The class was partially supported by a grant from the Robin Smith Innovation Fund.

Students had to improvise when classes moved online following Spring Break; they used materials found at home and ordered parts online to build their projects. While some students’ projects reflected the new circumstances of being confined at home in material choices, others created objects that directly respond to how the virus has changed daily life.


Matthew Eximond’s soap dispenser has a built-in mp3 player and a speaker that plays the sound of a group cheering loudly every time somebody dispenses soap. The project is designed to cheer for good hygiene, but Matthew says the cheer is also a battle cry against the virus. The soap dispenser keeps on cheering for 20 seconds - the minimum CDC recommended duration for handwashing.


Jackson Eagan’s “Midnight Project” is a time-telling device designed to give hope. It is a clock that does not show the local time. It shows where in the world a new day is beginning. Every hour, it will light up the name of a city where the current time is midnight. The object is designed to give hope to those who are having a difficult time by reassuring them that a new day will come.

These are just two of the student projects from this class that show that art is a form of poetic innovation that can help us understand and process the new normal. As poetic innovation, art can be an embodiment of the times we are presently experiencing.