Concept recapitulation

We want to build a beautiful tunnel that feels like you’re in an ocean of silk and color. The installation will have gentle ambient motion to draw the audience in, then will move according to the audience’s motion, rippling as the individual walks through the tunnel. The installation should elicit feelings of awe and calmness.

Proof of concept prototypes

For the next steps of our project, we decided to prototype our project at scale to make sure we can achieve the movement we want. First, we prototyped the walls. We didn’t have fan of the right size so we just simulated the airflow with hand-powered fans. Based on the motions we were able to produce, we think a small fan will do the trick; we just need to figure out how to get it connected to the microcontroller and distance sensor.

Here are two wall tests we did:

this is the motion we want
this motion is crazy, maybe too much. Also probably hard to replicate

The fan creates more of a rippling effect at a short distance, but over a long distance it creates a billowing effect.

We figured out how to get the fan to work after a while. Here’s a video of that:

Next, we wanted to test out the billow motion on the ceiling. We attached some fabric to a weighted dowel. We tied twine to the two ends of the dowel and ran them through the ceiling clips, effectively creating two pulleys. It worked surprisingly well. We also found that when the fabric was at rest, a person walking beneath it gets the fabric to make a wave. Interestingly, running through does not have the same effect. Hopefully, that aspect of the piece will encourage people to move slowly through the hallway and appreciate it.

how the dropping mechanism works
a person’s perspective of the ceiling dropping

walking through moves the silk.

We left our prototype for a bit to go work on our bill of materials. When we came back to take it down we discovered some Lunar Gala folks appreciating and using our installation for a photoshoot. It was nice to see that our concept already has some support.

When making our bill of materials, we realized that silk is expensive and we need 25 yards of it. We tested the motion of various polyesters and nylons and unfortunately no lightweight fabric produces the same effect as the silk. The silk is great because it is smooth, shiny, fluid, lightweight, and translucent. None of the other fabrics have these properties. We need the full 25 yards to have fabric on all 3 sides of the hallway. We really hope we can get the amount of silk we need to actualize our vision. 🙂

Also, Robert figured out how to get a fan to go/stop based on triggering a distance sensor. Here’s a picture of the setup:

Successes and failures:

Not sure how to connect fan to wall. Ideally fans would be on rails

Dropping the dowel was surprisingly effective. We need to figure out if a person is dropping it or if a machine does it.

The effect of the fabric is luscious and sumptuous. It is fantastic and elegant.

We need to make sure the interaction with the walls and the ceiling to be cohesive. If the walls are motion triggered, should the ceiling be too?

Bill of materials:

  • 25 yards Bombyx Mori
  • Thick black cardstock to cover lights (must be black for elegance purposes)
  • Yellow, hot fuchsia, red (?), blue, black acid dye
  • Dowel
  • Weights (the little circular ones from A4 are good)
  • Satin cord (such as, but not specifically:–knBNmGQaAhvTEALw_wcB)
    • Basically, just a low friction cord that is not likely to tangle
    • Need ~10 yards just in case
  • Lights (probably rent from ideate)
  • 4 Big shower curtain type clips (to attach to ceiling)
  • 2 fans, we have one that works but need another
  • Distance sensor
  • Microcontroller for distance sensor and fans
  • Rails (?) clamp (?) something to attach fans to walls. Need help on this Garth and Olivia

Next steps for this project include:

  • Acquiring materials
  • Figuring out how to attach fans to the wall
  • Figuring out how to control the fans via the microcontroller
  • Finding a more elegant solution for attaching fabric to walls and ceiling
  • Dyeing fabric!
  • Finding best lighting setup
  • Installation, etc.