Arjan Scherpenisse

Boy with Toy

A fascination with technology

From my early childhood I have been fascinated with technology. When I was only 4 years old, my uncle gave me a "motortje", a little electro engine screwed to a small wooden board with some gears connected to it. A 4.5V battery and a little switch made the engine run. I still remember very well the distinct smell the oily engine gave when I had it running.


Soldering wires onto the wiimote, realising 4 digital outputs -

Later on, it became obvious that I was a technical, "beta" kid. Although the antroposophical visions of my parents did not allow for many (plastic, electric) toys, my main toys included technical legos (the train, electrics and pneumatics), and mecano. Lego was my favorite toy for a long time, and I remember building many different cars, machinery and even some sort of factory.

Another advance came as I was older, I got some electronics kit called "Electro 3000" (i think) with which I could build various schematics like flip-flops, delay switches and even an AM receiver. I even got a soldering iron and with it I disassembled all kinds of electronic devices ranging from televisions to vacuum cleaners. However, I never quite understood the exact workings of electronic schematics, and even today they remain somewhat a mystery to me.

When I was about the age of 13, my main toy became the computer. The first computer I touched was an old MSX computer which had to be connected to the television. Together with a friend we would sit all day typing over pages of BASIC code from a computer magazine which, when no errors were made, would produce a computer game. However, we never got a game actually to run because we did not understand what a "syntax error" was or we made mistakes copying mysterious POKE and PEEK addresses.

My first real computer program was a Quiz, which consisted of several movie questions, and was built up from one big if-then-else statement. From there on my programming improved gradually, and right now I make my living from it.

Lately, however, I recall to my childhood, wanting again to experiment with resistors, electromotors and sensors. These feelings were waken up by the "PING" project I did with fellow students of the Rietveld Academy. For that project I dug up my soldering iron again and it felt good. For the future I hope to continue combining hardware with software into interesting electronic art projects.

Crossposted from