Nov 21

Ideas Taking Shape: Final: Process


I prototyped my initial idea for showing the path of the sun through the sky throughout the year. 

This initial idea had been made up of 12 months/layers, each laser cut with the sunpath as the bottom arc and holes for each hour along that arc. These holes are according to the number of hours in that month and according to the sun’s position at that precise hour.

LEDs light up at the sunlight hour and the month (so for example, in the November arc, and at 10 a.m.).

Having shown it to a lot of people and looked at it a lot myself, I still do not think it communicates all of the information very well. 

Over the weekend and the beginning of this week, I have been working with muscle wire and think it could be the right medium for this project. 

The concept behind it is:

Each hour is represented by a flower petal (24 in total, per month).

On the first hour of sunlight (7 a.m. for November), the 7 a.m. position petal curls back. Et cetera until 4 p.m. when the sun sets and all of the petals that had opened will close back to their original position. 

As before, the actual arc length and shape is important to me, therefore each month will have a different containing arc.

There will be a full circle of petals, but only the hours of sunlight petals will be activated.

I am going to start with One Month and prepare the full hour wheel, so 17 normal petals and 7 muscle wire petals, and build from there.

In the below sketch, the pink are the muscle-wire incorporated, sun activated petals, and the blue will always stay still as they are the no-sun hours.

Rough tests:

I plan to contain the wiring and Arduino underneath the flower, in a thin plywood box that would sit comfortably on a desk or table - or could be mounted on the wall. 

A lot of thinking through the process left me in the plan to begin with just one month.

See various possibilities:

Option 1:
Muscle wire incorporated in all 24 petals (24 hrs of the day)
It is activated on all petals so that they are closed up - but as an hour gets the sun (let’s say the 7 a.m. petal), it opens - thus voltage OFF on that one - and then for 8 a.m., and so on, until we are at the end of the daylight for the day, at which point they all revert to being closed up (voltage ON)
Option 2:
Muscle wire only incorporated in “sun” petals (average of 10 - but depends on which time of year we are in) 
In order to keep the no-sun petals closed, use elastic… not sure how to do this? Would it be on the tip of each petal, pulling it inward? But enough slack so that the muscle wire, when activated, would be able to resist / open the paper petal?
Option 3:
Each petal represents a different month of the year. 12 petals total. Sized according to hours of daylight for that month. 
A petal unfurls when 7 am and its month is called - but maybe the voltage is analog - so the unfurl is as slowly as that days hours and this creates a feel for where we are in the day - halfway unfurled down would be halfway through the sunlight for that day - 

In other news, the laptop stand!

Nov 18

Muscle Wire

Jie Qi taught Sophie and me about muscle wire yesterday. She is a fantastic teacher. We had so much fun! The pleasure of mixing electronics with craft… sewing the muscle wire into place, adjusting its placement with copper tape circuits… 

To start with, we figured out how much muscle wire to use based on the voltage we were going to use (a 5v power source). Using Ohm’s law (V = I / R) and research as to how many amps the muscle wire takes, (we used 0.006 HT Flexinol), we calculated that our target length was 9.6 inches. We cut our 9.6 inch pieces in half to have more material.

Then we crimped the ends of the muscle wire because it is easier to solder the crimp than to solder the tiny end of the muscle wire. 


Next we soldered the muscle wire into place on the copper tape circuit. It’s important to try to have the muscle wire tightly in place so that when you apply voltage and it tightens further, the interaction is swift. 


We also sewed the muscle wire into its place in the paper so that the paper would be fully reactive rather than just pulling at either end. 


Above you see the sewn paper / muscle wire, and the copper tape circuit connecting the two pieces of muscle wire (the total length of 9.6 more or less, to resist the 5V coming in properly). 

Another circuit photo - this is the back of each panel:image

Applying voltage, curling up!


See them in action!

Nov 14

Ideas Taking Shape: Sundial: Process

Sketches of how this could be… the arcs, where the arcs could sit, how the LEDs would climb the legs of the arc.

More details, thinking through the months… front view and side view:

Maybe having a tilted based would give the same understanding of the change in the arc / day etc?

I found a website that models the path of the sun throughout the year to model solar energy options. 

It produces drawings like these:

I traced these and created thin arcs, with wholes where the hours are. I am lasercutting each arc, putting together a small arch structure where the LED wiring could fit behind the arcs and the LEDs would shine through each hole at the appropriate time.

Here is that sketch, with the arcs in month order. See how the arch changes throughout the year.


It makes more sense to go with an order that reflects the order of the sun throughout the year though:

I also tried piling up the above arches - one on top of the other - out of curiosity - though this would not be a feasible design because the light would not come through to the front if it were December or January.




And then the Arduino component of the clock - using Processing first, just to get a feel for the parsing, and then the Real Time Clock module. My tape tags show that the date is parsing correctly (It was 7:30 p.m. and November when I was testing).

Two models:

Without “data”

Some of the “real” sunpath models:

Nov 06

Ideas Taking Shape: Final


For my final, I am going to make a small, desktop sundial - season - clock. 

There will be an arching wire for every month with LEDs along the wire. The LEDs mark the hours throughout the day, along the arch of the wire, mirroring the sun’s path through the sky each day. This description of the sun’s path is detailed - if it is a new month, the LEDs along a new wire will light up - demonstrating how the sun’s path changes throughout the year. 

The structure would be wrapped in rice paper or another slightly textured paper to mask the wiring underneath and diffuse the light from the LEDs slightly - such as the tea filters I used in my Light Jars. 

My rough mockup / starting to understand the wire spots through the year.

For example, currently the sun rises south of east and south of west - not exactly in the east or exactly in the west. 

I am deciding between several formats:

1. Full detail: every month, every hour. (12 arches, approx. 144 LEDs)

2. Part: every month, but rather than hourly, it would be chunk of hours (morning, middle, afternoon) (12 arches, approx 48 LEDs)

3. Part: seasons, every hour. There would be an arch per season, and LEDs lighting up every hour. (4 arches, 144 LEDs).

4. Detailed LEDs: for each part of the day, the LED colors would have variations: white+yellow (early morning), bright yellow (midday), or white/yellow/purple/blue/red (sunset).

5. Detailed LEDs + Internet info: if the day is cloudy, rainy, the LEDs will be yellow throughout the day. If bright and sunny, the LEDs will be white throughout the day. If the pollution index is high, the sunset colors will be particularly rainbow-like (according to the theory that the more polluted the day, the more glorious the sunset).

Rough trial: LEDs lighting up according to time of day / month.

This would live on desks, in living areas, in schools, and teach us about our environment at the same time as it added information to our days in an ambient, subtle way.

Other ideas on sunlight:

Untitled (for the Sun) by Jim Campbell - a clock that displays time as a percentage. 

Beginning at 0 at sunrise, the five-digit display shows the percentage of daylight already spent, reaching 99.999 at sunset… because time is measured by the length of daylight, the clock (or ‘time’) runs faster in the daytime in the winter then in the summer.”

Kota Nezu has an interesting device: a “Planetary Parasol”:

Nov 05

Sensitive Buildings: Ethnography Assignment

Major takeaways…

Kaitlin has a combination of personal, artistic, inspiring objects in her apartment. She feels the need for more space because she would like to separate some of the clutter “Trash” that is not trash and the personal (clothing mostly). 


Create a separate set of drawers / shelves for artistic gathering to capture the “studio” gathering. Keep the simple feel for the rest of her life.

Nov 04

Cabinet of Wonders: Manifesto


Exhibit priorities:

- Mystery

- Secrets

- Sense of discovery

- Look twice / suspension of disbelief

- Come away with a story You Learned - something to write home about

- Make a connection - have the “this reminds me of that book” (or article or theory or film or other piece of artwork or thing that you are working on)…

- Space to question what you see and its description - wonder more, delve deeper (the tiny library/nook at the Guggenheim allows you to read through beautiful books about the current exhibition)

Museum atmosphere:

- As a beautiful library entrance and its reading rooms elicit a feeling of awe, of inspiration to be a scholar, as a beautiful religious building might elicit feelings of devotion, so should my Museum elicit feelings of awe, inspiration, maybe devotion, as well as excitement and curiosity

- But the above (library, church) also allow for simple contemplation. And my museum will have places for this in and among the exhibits (for example, the Frick’s courtyard, the Met’s Astor wing / round room on the dinosaur floor, sea creatures hall with the parquet flooring where the kids sprint around and the grown ups lie down if they want to).


- For discovery: take MOMA’s giant suspended helicopter as an example of how to play with the space, bring in objects that are specific to a museum (not everyone gets to stare at a helicopter close up - unless you go to MOMA!), display them in a surprising way that make people think twice, look twice at the objects around them.

- Natural light: again, MOMA’s use of windows into the city from high up, making you feel as if you are still in a bigger environment (the city) rather than entirely separated from the outside and outside life… 

- Comfortable couches, and many of them. Some right in front of a piece of art.

- Nook / reading rooms in the exhibit space itself rather than separate hall or floor - these allow for deeper delves into the subject matter and supplement simple captions and exhibit introductions on the wall.

- Nook / cafes on each hall or floor.

- Speaking of floors, the museum will have four exhibit rooms, a cafe and a restaurant. Plenty of natural light. Garden courtyard in the middle. Each room is clean (white paint, nothing else than the art, couches, nooks built in to room) - rather than richly decorated (like the Frick) unless the exhibition is about interior decoration.

- Friendly, warm security guards and overall staff - curious and interested in provoking discussion on the current exhibit.

- If an exhibit needs, it can close the curtains over the big windows / add japanese-like screens to change the space - the “four big rooms” can be altered. The idea behind “four big rooms” is “not too big!”


- This museum will be a place to go with a friend, to stop by, to put your feet up when you have an hour and are in the neighborhood.

- Therefore, hours will be until 9 two nights a week (thursday, friday) (to accommodate post-work people).

- There will be concerts in the courtyard when the weather permits.

- There will be film screenings at night according to the exhibit theme.

- There will be workshops where artists teach a craft that has to do with that theme (for example, if the exhibit is about “The Progress of Love” and one of the pieces in the exhibit is a hand-woven basket that wives made for husbands in 1792 to show their love (making this up), then there will be workshops about how to make those baskets.

- The website will be simple - hours, directions, and a tab to some web-specific specialties - whether this is audio or video or more photographs or an interesting collections browser, slideshows (top ten outfits curated by a Fashion Magazine Editor for the exhibit on women’s fashion during WWII, for example).

Oct 25

Sensitive Buildings: Data Network

Sensitive Buildings data network… we got the circuit all set with Luis’ temperature sensor but it did not work… so we went back and tried to check whether the PAN IDs were all set up but frustratingly, couldn’t get back in to programming the XBEE via Cool Term OR X-CTU… to be continued.

Cabinet of Wonders: de Menil Presentation Sketches

1. First view, homepage:

A globe showing pins where all the artists contributing to each exhibition are from, 

2. When clicking a pin, you see the artist’s work and then on clicking the work, go into an overall grid of all the artwork

3. A sidebar of filters: filter the artwork by color, theme, medium, surprise me, artist.

Themes shoot out to each institution’s themes for the exhibit. These tags are clickable and take you to that institution’s artwork.

The grid with menu filter.

Oct 17

Ideas Taking Shape: Midterm Documentation

In the end, I think I like the way it looks without any light at all (see picture 3), but many lessons learned:

1. Capitalize on the potential of mobile, different leaves actually floating together

2. Plexiglass distracts from the leaves, the element I most wanted to evoke

3. Lightbulb problem: the first inspiration of leaves along a long fluorescent tube would have worked better

4. Room for improvement. Still intrigued, but looking forward to entirely reworking the idea.

Ideas Taking Shape: Midterm Process

After collecting maple leaves and branches,

 I preserved them in a solution of glycerin and water and then mounted them in plexiglass.

I played with the shape - trying a hexagonal shape as below - 

Instead, I returned to the planar shape that initially had caught my eye in the maple branch structure. 

I then worked on the lighting part - changing the wiring from a straight plastic insulated cord to a rope - 

Though I really liked the glass fixture that I found to work with, I decided to go back and simply use the typical clear cord instead because of the aesthetic of the clear plexiglass that I was working with already.