TURBYNES

Wind turbines strongly interfere with our environment. These uncompromising structures create utopian sceneries. Their motion inadvertently generates choreographies across the landscape.

In my project I am exploring these accidental choreographies by artificially recreating this phenomenon in the form of a kinetic light installation, representing the turbines themselves.

The process was split into two main parts. At first I have decided to design and build the installation, without having a clear definition of the final choreography. Then in the second phase, once all the tools were ready, my focus turned to the motion and play of the objects.

The installation consists of three “turbines”, laid out side by side. Their overlapping blades create a similar effect to the above described sceneries.

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Building the turbines

Each turbine is composed of three main parts: a stand, a head and three blades. In order to achieve modularity I have decided to use camera tripods as stands. By using tripods, adjusting the height of each turbine was made easy. It also allowed the head to be detachable. The head consists of a houseing, covering the electronics, and an exposed stepper motor connected to a laser cut gearing. The gears are responsible for the rotation of the blades. Each blade is 1 meter long, with a high density, natural white LED strip attached to it. The LED strips are diffused by opaque diffusers. Through the axis of rotation a slip ring leads the necessary cables to the strips. The turbines are controlled using an Arduino Uno, recieving commands from an application via serial port. 

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Interface and logic

The controlling interface was developed in Processing. It is both capable of running real time user input and predefined sequences. It also serves as a visualisation of the logic behind the movement and the lights of the installation. After the hardware was finished, I have started to experiment with different control methods. I wanted to define the behaviour of the installation single handedly with the frequency of the rotation.

Using Lissajous figures turned out to produce the most interesting results, perhaps because these curves are used to describe harmonic motion. The figure is produced by the intersection of two sinusoidal curves. The frequency of one of the curves defines the frequency of the motor rotating the turbine. The point of intersection controls the dimming of the LED strips, resulting a pulsing effect, dependent on the speed of the motor. The second frequency gave me freedom to modulate these sequences. Each turbine has three blades with LED strips attached accordingly. All three are controlled by identical frequency and amplitude, however by changing the phase of each one, the installation produces harmonic, yet differing pulsations of light. 

Credits

The project was developed under the guidance of Ján Šicko at the Media Lab of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava. 

The installation was exhibitied at the Sensorium conference at the Slovak National Gallery in 2016.