Electrocymatics

Timeframe:
Fall 2018
2 weeks 

Collaboration:
Miranda Luong

Advisors:
Jakob Marsico


One of my professors inspired me with his thoughts on qualitative interfaces, which portrays design as a channel through which we can understand something about the nature or quality of things intrinsically enigmatic. This project was an exploration on how vibration and cymatics can be used to communicate the quality of electricity and energy usage.


Process

Laser Cutting Situation
On the hardware end, we decided to make an enclosure that houses the water, transducer, LED strip, and the Arduino/ shields. Because we were dealing with water and electronics, we had to be extra careful about sealing everything.
Closeup of the housing. Although exposed wire is not great, we tried to minimize it as much as possible, given our timeframe.
My TouchDesigner Network
This project was a good opportunity to learn TouchDesigner. I had wanted to learn this tool for a while because I had heard that it is a really good playground for a lot of different mediums. It helped me create and test a working prototype much faster!
A working model using TouchDesigner. It’s really cool to interact with physical things through digital UI!


Setup
There were two primary variables in our final setup—the turbulence intensity and color of the water.
Final artifact.
Start sequence.

Conclusion


Ultimately, this was a very fast project that happened amidst a lot of other work. If I were to make another iteration, I would make a more beautiful form that goes better with the form of the ripples, because the hard edges of the box take away from the experience. Also, the LED strip was far too close to the edge of the box, creating very ugly looking hot spots. I would prefer a softer light.

But the greater learning is that design can be used powerfully to bring greater understanding and approachability to things that seem nebulous. Electricity and energy is a difficult concept to understand, but relating it to the qualities of water and turbulence seemed to really communicate effectively!

On a technical level, I learned a lot about the TouchDesigner x Arduino pipeline, allowing me to do a lot more software/hardware integrated projects. 

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