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Electric Objects wants to put the digital art world on your wall

Kris Naudus, @krisnaudus
July 9, 2014
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Digital photo frames are one of those product categories that seemed like a good idea at the time. As it turned out, no one really wanted a low-resolution LCD screen in their living room that needed to be plugged into a chunky power brick just to display pictures of their kids. New York-based startup Electric Objects believes it's fixed that problem with the EO1, "a framed high-definition screen and integrated computer that hangs on your wall and brings art from the Internet into your home." Or, as founder Jake Levine calls it, a screen that doesn't "make you feel like shit."

The EO1 is a 23-inch HD matte display that runs off an Cortex-A9 processor, more than enough to handle animated GIFs and javascript visualizations. You can load any image you want off the web, but the EO1 is really meant to be used with a digital storefront that offers images from both cultural organizations like the New York Public Library and the Museum of the Moving Image, and digitally native outlets like Digg, to.be and Giphy. But unlike previous attempts at creating a frame for digital art you can't take images off an SD card or load them via USB. You can't even connect a keyboard or mouse -- the EO1 is meant to be accessed via the company's iOS and Android apps.

As to whether the EO1 makes you feel like shit, it's hard to say -- the early prototypes we saw at Electric Objects' office still laid bare the inner workings of the device, with the earliest versions running Android on a Raspberry Pi. But the final version will tuck that all away, and the thick black plastic frame and matte finish wouldn't be out of place in an art gallery -- or suburban living room. It's a bit too heavy to hang on a single nail, though, and you're still going to have to plug it in, albeit with a cord resembling the one from the Macbook Air.

So while we're still not itching for a way to put our favorite GIFs on our office walls, apparently someone is -- the Electric Objects Kickstarter campaign has blown through its goal of $25,000 with over $200,000 in pledges in the first day. Some have even bought into the tier where you receive five EO1 units -- and we doubt they're buying them to show off the best Oprah GIFs.

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