UBC Undergraduate Research

Clouds and light : an interactive art project for the new SUB Strang, Andrew


Clouds and Light is an interactive concept intended as an installation for the new UBC Student Union Building atrium space. It is built around the idea of participatory action and is meant to demonstrate the potential of the human body to generate large-scale kinetic motion and energy. The installation consists of an array of fabric shapes, each approximately 4- 5 meters in diameter, suspended from the atrium ceiling, each connected to a series of pulleys and gears through fabric cables. The pulleys are connected to the floor of the space in such a way that a person may pull on the cables, activating the gear system and causing the shapes to move in a wave-like pattern. This motion causes two main effects: as the fabrics of the shapes shift in space, the natural light entering the atrium through the many windows is diffused and filtered in a subtle, changing pattern; and the motion of the pulleys turns a generator, sending electrical energy to a series of LED lights which help to illuminate the installation. This project has been developed as a roughly 1/10 scale prototype, which demonstrated the concepts of power generation and user-induced motion as well as the aesthetics of the piece. Scaling this project up for the purpose of installation in the new SUB atrium is feasible, but will require further information on the structural makeup of the building as the intent is to suspend the piece from the existing structure. The materials, construction and installation process can potentially be made cost-effective; the details of this are discussed in two possible scenarios. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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