Timothy Hirzel
December 2001
MASXXX Final Project
Prof. John Maeda

Birthday Cake With Fiber Optic Candles That Really Blow Out!
The other day I saw a plastic christmas tree in the window of the hardware store. It had glowing fiber optic needles coming out from it. A spinning light inside made them glow and twinkle. I find the tree cheap and sinister, yet quite beautiful. Built of plastic-- in ten thousand years someone will escavate it from a landfill and try to imagine what kind of society made it. This little tree lost contact with its pagan ancestors. Twinkling and bright-- I feel used, drawn to the twinkling lights like a crow to a piece of tin foil. Crows love sparkly tin foil. But it is beautiful in its bizarre originality. A rookie in the plastic tree business runs down the hall to the boss's office. "I've got it!" I love a tender story of mild breakthrough.

My birthday cake is an effort to reproduce this kind of encounter. Futuro impregrates traditional icon. Over the semester I've been trying to join baked good with technology. In my last attempt, I made a tray of spinning pumpkin muffins. They were supposed to act like a dot matrix display, spinning out the letters M-U-F-F-I-N. It was a fun project, but it lacked anything compelling besides how bizarre it was.

In this second attempt I tried using a blowing interface to draw the user in close. I'm also hoping to contectualize the experience by accessing the tradition of blowing out birthday candles. At the very least its hard to make frosting spread nicely between fiber optics. You don't hear that every day. Though I'm sure I'm not the first.

Make your wish and blow!

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