Glow with the flow: jel.e.d.s
Glow with the Flow: JeL.E.D.s is an interactive installation that was a part of the first annual Blink light festival in Cincinnati, Ohio from October 12-15, 2017. This project features a 20 foot wide LED-lit dome designed to look like a jellyfish, 8 foot tall interactive Jellyfish art pieces, and an aquatic-theme environment.
CONCEPT AND IDEA BUILDING
The preliminary stages of conceptualizing started in early Winter of 2017 after we were invited to submit a proposal for Blink. A team of 2 other creative individuals -Chris Hall and George Berlin- and myself theorized about the construction of a Jellyfish and Underwater themed environment that invited festival attendees to relax, with the addition of a playful interactive element. The original idea featured Kinetic Jellyfish Sculptures that could be pushed around like a cart and a party tent. The tent, which had a 20 foot diameter, was intended to resemble a bigger jellyfish, with aquatic decorations to help tie in the whole environment.
During the middle of the year, our team had received a letter of acceptance of our proposal, and we gathered all of the appropriate supplies to meet for an intensive week of building the prototype. To accommodate the specific location our installation would be constructed, we adapted our design to create stationary kinetic sculptures, as well as some aesthetic changes to the party tent, which we often referred to as the "Jellyfish Dome." During this week, the team set up the installation in its entirety in a backyard, including full decorations, as well as developing the concept of how to make the Jellyfish sculptures kinetic. We decided the best method would be to build a pogo-stick mechanism that encouraged users to push down on a pair of handlebars to make the Jellyfish undulate. The Jellyfish dome was filled with Purple, Teal and Blue LED lights and complementary fabric, a rotating chandelier centerpiece (Jellyfish themed, of course) and we planned to order inflatable furniture and seating for festival goers to enjoy the atmosphere curated for relaxation.
KINETIC JELLYFISH SCULPTURES
I took on the role of designing and building the kinetic jellyfish sculptures, which we dubbed the "Jellyfish Jumpers". The design challenge was to create 3 kinetic and interactive Jellyfish that was lightweight, cost effective, safe and easily transportable by van. Using PVC and Polypropylene, I created the skeletons of the jellyfish that were easily detachable and rebuildable with bolts and clips. The Kinetic mechanism is powered by the inner shaft resting on top of a large spring, enclosed by the outer shaft PVC. We commissioned wooden box bases weighted with sandbags to support the flexble nature of the sculptures. Finally, the skeletons are then decorated with fabric via clips and pins, and lit up with a microcontroller and LED strips powered by 10,000 mAH batteries.
One of the biggest challenges when designing these sculptures was being able to accurately anticipate how durable the design would be after a large crowd (Over 1 million people attended this event!) interacted with it. Keeping the design lightweight and easily fixable with nuts, bolts and occasionally tape was important in case we needed to make changes in the middle of the event on a moment's notice. During the event, I learned that the interface of pushing the pole up and down was not always immediately apparent, and many users attempting to push and pull it horizontally. Luckily the poles were securely attached and it did not break the sculptures, but it initially caused worry and frequent demonstrations for the proper use. The solution was to create signs with simple instructions, which seemed to alleviate the issue. The design of the Jellyfish head took a few brainstorming sessions, but after multiple attempts of proper measuring and calibration, I was easily able to recreate 2 more iterations of the skeleton, with help and guidance from my teammates.
Date of Project: March 2017 - October 2017
My role: Helping conceptualize and develop the design for the entire installation, helping write the proposal, lead designer of the Jellyfish Jumpers, and maintaining and supervising the security the of the installation during the 4 days of the event.
Programs and skills used:
Worked with a team of three people to deliver a working interactive installation that meets the criteria of the initially proposed design and endures the interaction of hundreds of thousands of people.
Used craftsmanship skills to build secure, safe and effective sculptures.
Solution: Create an interactive experience with an aquatic theme to be on display at a public light festival. This project familiarized me with creating art that will be open for the the mass public to interact with.