Final Project Prototyping – Sam C & W, Jeff, Mini

This week we revisited the site, came up with a new “kinetic art” concept, designed an early prototype, and experimented with a range of materials and light positions to find the best option for our concept.

Photo Oct 19, 4 28 04 PM

When we returned to North End Way we realized that, as Luke pointed out in class, the presence of water so close to the location is really compelling. We started to think of ways to translate the dynamic qualities of the nearby water into the arcade. Initially we were thinking of pure audio or perhaps a wave pool to emulate the sound of moving water. Then Sam W. noticed that there is a diagonal grid created by the paving stones in the arcade and mimicked by the glass panels above. Jeff brought up the idea of “walking on water” and I brought up the work of Reuben Margolin, whose kinetic sculptures leverage the mathematics of water eddies and waves to great effect.

We were considering a projected light effect, but thanks to Michael’s feedback we realized that the ambient light in the space would probably be too much for that to be visually compelling. We decided to play on the idea of shadows instead. By shining a strong spotlight through our kinetic sculpture we would be able to broaden the reach and perceived size of the installation.

Photo Oct 24, 2 29 13 PM

Once we had a general idea of the shape we started to experiment with different dowel diameters using one of the department’s high-intensity photography lighting rigs. We learned that the closer the object is to the ground the more crisp and clearly defined the shadow is, and also that as the dowels move farther away their outlines blur significantly. We also found that we could create a shadow wave even when moving all of the dowels simultaneously along the same path, a finding which should simplify our eventual installation. We had a few hiccups involving the material we used to suspend the rods from the main axis (thread had too much “give” and resulted in a jerky motion) but we know that the core concept is sound. Our next step is to integrate a motor of some kind and begin refining the whole apparatus.

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