Head in the Clouds

Inspiration

This piece was inspired by multiple Zimoun pieces, we enjoyed the expressive movements derived from simple mechanics. Our goal for the piece was to create a unique and individual experience for each user. We conveyed a feeling of mesmerizing isolation, similar to how you would feel lying on the ground and looking up at the clouds.

Construction

To create the robot we built an enclosure made out of plywood and 2’x4’ pieces of lumber that encompassed the top half of the viewer and was supported on four legs, also made from 2’x4’s. Inside, there was lots of brown crumpled paper that was actuated by 40 servo motors. Our actuation system was comprised of these hobby servo motors and multiple micro-controllers. Each wall of the enclosure housed 9 panels, each with their own servo, all of which were hooked up to one mini-maestro, mounted to the side of the corresponding wall. The ceiling of the structure also had 4 panels, each of these panels was connected to the 10th channel of the mini maestro for one wall. The four mini-maestros were controlled by a single laptop via a usb port splitter. The Maestro Control Center  nstallation was used to write the positions of the servos and put on a loop throughout the performance. Above the viewer in the enclosure, we mounted LED lights to the corners of the structure to add depth and vary color during the performance. The keep the experience private and surprising, we stapled black canvas to the exterior of our structure. This prevented onlookers from seeing what was happening inside without going in themselves as well as kept them focused on their personal experience with the enclosure once inside. Additional crumpled paper was hot glued in between panels to keep the modes of actuation unknown to the user.

The Experiance

The experience began with the viewer approaching the piece as a large plain enclosure from the outside. To enter they had to crouch down and walk/crawl into the enclosure or sit below it. Once inside they were fully surrounded by abstract moving crumpled paper forms and color
shifting lights. The paper forms twisted and crumpled at differing rates over the time of the viewer’s interaction. The space was designed to be reactive in a way that created a different feeling in each user; some felt suspense or overwhelmed from the constant motion while others were calmed by the experience. The depth of the space felt greater than the physical dimensions of the enclosure.

Project Documentation

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-375/f2018/work/2018/12/17/head-in-the-clouds-final/

 

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