This second iteration of our parasite is made up of two independent air chambers, constrained by a plastic tube. As one chamber is inflated, it grows, forcing the second chamber to shrink, and vice versa, creating a cycle similar to that of breathing. Over time, this cycle of inflating and deflating causes the parasite to slowly inch up the leg.

The second iteration of our parasite, sped up at 4x the normal speed, in order to highlight its movement over time

When starting this project, we decided to choose the “cycle” prompt, in order to explore the repeatability of our parasite’s actions. When reflecting on our first parasite, we really liked how it uncurled from the arm and moved upwards as it inflated and grew. However, this action wasn’t repeatable, as we had to manually deflate it and wrap it back around the arm before inflating it again. Instead, we decided to anchor our new parasite on both ends to prevent it from uncurling, and to focus more on movement inside the parasite itself.

In order to create a repeatable cycle, we built on one of Olivia’s experiments from class, which was made up of two long, tube-like chambers placed on opposite ends inside of another, unsealed tube. As one chamber is inflated, it extends in length, forcing the second one to move down the tube, and vice versa, similar to a piston. While experimenting with our parasite, we decided to take this same concept, and replace one of the tube-chambers with a chamber similar to that used in our first parasite, so that it would curl.

While exploring different mechanisms, we found that once placed on the body, the movements and changes of the parasite were fairly subtle. In order to make them more obvious, we sealed a piece of blue fur inside one of our chambers. While it’s difficult to see the fur itself move or react to the pressurized air, we found that it still helps to highlight where one chamber ends and the other begins. Other unexpected results of the parasite’s movements were the sounds it created, and how over time, the parasite slowly moved up the leg.

The parasite moving in real-time, to highlight the sound it makes as the different chambers are inflated and deflated

Collaboration on this project was fairly similar to how we worked together on the previous project. Because it was more difficult to think about and design the mechanisms in this iteration compared to the last, it was helpful to bounce ideas off of eachother, and we shared the work fairly evenly.