Posted tagged ‘contrast’


December 3, 2009

Yey I finished it!

Icosahedron with simple pattern cut out of it

Icosahedron with simple pattern cut out of it

It was quite fiddley but I felt like I was in nursery doing crafts again. It was so much fun putting it together. For some reason I decided to make life a little difficult for myself too by cutting a simple pattern into it which took tonnes more time but now you can see how the pattern relates to the shape and also a kind of indication of the 3D structure that forms an Icosahedron.

So continuing from last week the images below show the process for making it:

Icosahedron template

Icosahedron template

pattern on to Icosahedron

Cutting pattern into each face of the Icosahedron - which is made up of equilateral triangles

Pattern cut into Icosahedron template

Template of icosahedron with pattern cut in all faces. The thicker borders are where the tabs are for attaching edges to the neighbouring edge

Assembling the Icosahedron

Assembling the Icosahedron

So obviously as soon as I got that done I just had to start experimenting. I used my reflective sheets and cut-out from a few weeks ago and formed a quick sculptural piece similar to what I would submit for an installation. I laid this flat, turned the lights off and left the small PIR unit at the end of the cone like shape to allow the light to flow through this towards the icosahedron and onto the cut-out pattern below.

View from above

View of installation prototype from above

View of prototype head-on

View of prototype head-on - before main light is turned off

prototype side view

prototype side view in dark which is how it would be exhibited


Only the PIR light has been left on and creates the view seen here. There is a mix of shadows competing with reflections and larger areas of light and shade.

prototype close-up

Close-up looking into the cone like area to where the icosahedron sits

I like how this looked against the black of darkness. It conveys the high contrast I was after and allows the distinctive shapes to show clearly.  The reflection of light makes it much brighter and the shadows cast from the patterns much darker therefore it stands out with much more contrast and visibility. I also like the fact that the whole piece is surrounded in darkness and therefore allows it to seem like a standalone installation that could fit into a generic gallery space.

In addition to this it looks quite futuristic and space age – not really something I considered before. I may contemplate this at a later stage – whether I want to leave this aspect as it is or change or remove it.

I also realised that the shapes and lines and use of the cone shape remind me of architectural structures. This was reaffirmed when I received feedback in which a similar comment was made.

I don’t think the photos do this piece justice though. It’s meant to be viewed in its physical form with the naked eye. In trying to capture it as an image it loses some of its awe. The good thing about it being a physical and 3D piece is that it encourages the viewer to move around it and explore it from different angles. By doing this the view changes with shapes changing according to the direction of light and casting of shadows and reflection.

I think for this point of the course – with the Unit 1 assessment just around the corner – it’s a good thing I’ve been able to experiment with the shapes and lighting even if it is still only the early stages of this.

The set-up of all the parts and the addition of the lighting meant a lot of time has to be set aside for this in future.

My next objectives are to:

– Do more research into lighting – especially motion sensitive options.
– Look into stronger materials for another prototype.
– And sooner or later I will need to pick my final pattern – which I will need to convert into a vector image suitable for use with the laser cutting machine.

PIR lights

November 16, 2009

The small magnetic lights arrived from Hong Kong but they don’t work all that great. They are supposed to work with a magnet that once pulled away from the unit cause the light to switch on. They are advertised to be used in say a cupboard where the magnet would be attached to the inside of the door and the light would be attached to the underside of the top of the cupboard. So when you open the door the light turns on. However, they seem to be a little temperamental and have either stopped working completely or decide to switch on or off in an erratic manner unrelated to the location of the magnet. They are also actually much smaller than I thought. But then that’s the risk of purchasing something from ebay I guess. They only cost about £4 so it was worth the risk.

Small lights activated with magnets

Small lights activated with magnets

Anyway I thought they could be used in some inventive way. I thought of maybe attaching the magnets to wands and getting people to turn the lights on from hidden places under my possible sculptures? Or some other hidden form of physical interaction where the person wouldn’t know a magnet was involved and would just assume it was all touch based. Hmm, if only I could create something touch based – but I’ve realised my skills in programming will not be advancing any time soon.

I’m actually quite wary of even going down that route – not only because I know I am not going to have time but also because I think I can find alternative solutions that allow more time for experimentation and proto-typing instead. Plus the pattern-making takes up the majority of my time. I don’t mind this as I still enjoy this very much, but it means I need to manage my time especially efficiently.

The disappointment of these small lights led me to Maplin where I purchased a much chunkier light which actually uses PIR (passive infra-red) to detect movement and so turns on automatically. This is designed for in-door/garage use and works well for what it is. The light seems to have a bit of a blue tinge to it though.

PIR light

PIR light - you can see comparative size of this to the smaller lights and the small pin I left on the desk but which highlights the scale of proportion

The down-side is that there is no flexibility in terms of how long the light stays on for (dependent on movement being continuous) and it has only 3 modes:

– On all the time,
– Off all the time,
– or automatic activation which only works in the dark and when movement is detected.

I did a bit of testing with this and it turns on as soon as you get a few feet near it. But the light doesn’t reach far enough and this I think will pose safety issues unless I have some other dim but permanent source of light also in the room/space I exhibit it.

During my tests I stuck my reflective cut-out onto the ceiling near a corner at a curved angle so that it looked like a web hanging down.

Shadow_vs_reflection - hanging pattern

Hanging reflective pattern cut-out. This was with the light on - one side shows the reflected pattern and the other shows the shadow - both stand out very well

I then switched the lights off and used the PIR light as if it were a torch moving around with it. The cool thing about this is that it deals with a very strong aspect of the interaction I was hoping for.

(I have a video of this but it’s a bit jumpy and has me having a conversation over it so I need to remove the audio before it can be viewed. As soon as it’s sorted I will post it up so be sure to look out for it as I think it’s come out quite good).

Here’s a shot before I made the video – not the best but conveys how it looks in the dark (light source being the large PIR unit I mentioned above):

Shadow_vs_reflection - hanging pattern

Once again shadow vs reflection - a nice line of symmetry shown here

I wanted the light and work to be affected by the motions of the viewer. Carrying the source of light means that the light is in constant motion and as it reflects off of the surface of the work the projected reflections as well as the shadows are also in constant motion.

SO I think this is a significant development – and although it seems a bit funny when I think about how someone new to the work might view it in a physical sense, I also think it will be quite fun.

So my objectives for the next week or so is to think of ways to present this light source to the viewer, look into how they may use this, carry it, interact with it and what the dangers of this might be (if there are any).

I also need to speak to Andy about how dark I can have the space in which I install my work and what restrictions I may face.

As for the actual sculptural materials – I am currently seeking advice on what can and cannot be laser-cut, what is flexible enough to be re-shaped or moulded after having been cut and how I might be able to mount/display these.

And finally – we have our Unit 1 assessment due in early December which is when we not only have to have a proto-type ready but also have an online curated page which illustrates how we have met the learning outcomes for that Unit. I’m pretty sure the curating part will not be too difficult in terms of finding content, but it will be tricky deciding which posts are most significant in conveying my developments. This will be the true test to see if all my tagging and categorisation was done well.

On an unrelated note but one that is concerning me is that I realised I didn’t put enough quotes in my essay. Actually I am shocked at the lack of them and can only imagine I was out of my mind at the time not to have done so. Now I just want to hurry up and know my marks so that I can stop worrying and move on.