Don Dunn is an artist, and we’re not just talking about his skill as a home automation and home theater designer/installer. Yes, his company, Merlin Home Technologies, has won Electronic House Home of the Year awards, and he’s been featured in our pages, but now he’s got a completely different project in mind.
“I was sitting around thinking about all the old remotes I’ve used and how far we’ve come,” he says. This led to an idea—build a three-dimensional art piece out of old remotes and controllers from the past.
Dunn wants to celebrate the history of the remote controller, by creating an artwork out of outdated remotes. At least that’s plan. He loves the business and the technology that makes it work, and wants to merge that passion with his passion for art. “I have dealer friends in my area helping me find the classic controlers like the Philips RC 2000, Sony RMAV2001, early Niles Intellicontrol, old-school Pronto, AMX touchscreen and others. I have amassed a pretty cool collection from a multitude of sources,” says Dunn.
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If you walked into a lot of home electronics showrooms (or looked through the current pages of Electronic House), you might think that home automation began and ended with the iPad. “A lot of newer people haven’t seen what we used to use. People use their iPads for everything,” he says. But the history of home control is a lot older than Steve Job’s creations. Another installer once told me that in the old days, home control “was like a science project.” We’ve come a long way from that.
Before he was bitten by the home electronics bug and started Merlin Home Technologies, Dunn was an art student. In between Control4 installations and home theater design, he still has time to create unique pieces. In his art, Dunn fuses old objects with new, and adds his unique vision. A lot of his work has a steampunk feel to it. Others are inspired by movies such as Nightmare Before Christmas or 300, such as these selections:
Dunn isn’t quite ready to starting building yet because his collection is incomplete. To make this happen, he needs a little help. You see, his position as an installer in the audio/video and automation worlds gives him access to a lot of gear. Like a lot of people in the industry, his basement is a dumping ground of outdated stuff, including remotes. That doesn’t mean he’s got everything, and he wants to include everything (well, within reason).
So what’s he looking for? Dunn says he’d love to include some old Crestron touchscreens, old URC remotes, and Lexicon’s 500T and 700T touchscreens.
What will the end project look like? He doesn’t really know yet, but judging from other pieces it will be impressive. He plans to take it to CEDIA so other people in the industry, those who can appreciate it the most, will get a chance to see it.
If you think you have some old products Dunn could use, you can get in touch with him here or reach out to me, and I’ll connect you.
Dunn’s collection so far:
You can check out some of Dunn’s custom electronics installs here:
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.