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Photo-Kinetic Sculptures

Land Photo-Kinetic Sculpture

“Land” is the single continent of the Quintaglio home world, based on Robert J. Sawyer’s “Quintaglio Ascension” trilogy. Rob generously approved me using his IP and source material for this project. The specific locations highlighted with LEDs are my best guess based on Rob’s Concordance.

Harsh Mistress Photo-Kinetic Sculpture

The photo-kinetic sculpture “Harsh Mistress” is complete. It was a six week project. My intention was to start “Galileo” next. However, Rob Sawyer generously invited me to a Patreon-only party at his home. I mentioned this project to him, and my plans to eventually do a similar piece based on “Land”, the continent on which his trilogy of the “Quintaglio Ascension” is set. I asked for his permission to use one of his maps as the basis for a sculpture, to which he readily agreed. My work sequence changed after I got home. There is an off-cut of MDF from “Harsh Mistress”, which is perfect for a smaller version of “Land”. “Galileo” will come later.
Harsh Mistress Simulation

Here is the result of several iterations and days’ worth of work on this concept. Mare Crisium on Luna’s north-east quadrant is the principal setting of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic novel “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. This sculpture will be based on a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image with LEDs highlighting places mentioned in the novel. The LED locations are a best guess based on repeated careful readings of the source material. The sculpture will be about 970 x 570 mm, designed for wall mounting.

The next step in the process is diving into Arduino programming for the LEDs.

Oh My Darling! – Photo-Kinetic Sculpture proof of concept

Oh My Darling!

“Oh My Darling!” is the proof of concept of Photo-Kinetic Sculptures. The base is 570 mm diameter. The central cylinder is 800 mm in overall height. Mass is about 15 kg. The base is a Hendecagon – a shape with 11 sides. This appears to be the String Theory consensus on the number of physical dimensions of our Universe, although most of them are curled up too tightly for us to sense.

The original concept for this sculpture was for it to double as a fountain. Each cylinder has a half inch copper pipe running up the middle, around which the LED ribbon is wound. There turned out to be two problems. The first was that the pump I used was under-powered and the fluid tubes too thin. The water flow at the top of the tallest cylinder was barely a trickle. The second problem was that despite there being multiple epoxy flood of the base, there were still leaks. I decided in the end that the fountain aspect just wasn’t worth the bother and ongoing upkeep. It makes a fine light sculpture though!

Cold Trap and Oh My Darling
Cold Trap and Oh My Darling – bases
Oh My Darling! base detail
Base detail
Oh My Darling base overview
Base overview
Oh My Darling top view
Top view

The base of Oh My Darling is a solid assembly of hard Maple. I designed the joints based on ones I have used in furniture. They are interlocking Mortise and Tenon of a custom shape. The interior of the base is from a composite image of the Lunar South Pole, taken by the Clementine mission spacecraft. Several coats of epoxy seal the wood. Colours are random.

Cold Trap and Oh My Darling! Photo-Kinetic Sculptures
Cold Trap & Oh My Darling lit
Oh My Darling in action!

Cold Trap – Lunar South Pole

Cold Trap Chandelier
Cold Trap as Ceiling Light Feature
Cold Trap
Cold Trap

“Cold Trap” is also a sculpture based on imagery of the Lunar South Pole. The source material for this version is from the NASA LROC (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera). The core is MDF with multiple coats of coloured Epoxy. This raised the grain of the MDF, giving it a texture simulating lunar regolith. The colours are far more muted than in “Oh My Darling”, better representing lunar reality.

Dimensions and mass are similar to “Oh My Darling” at 570 mm diameter, overall height 730 mm, and about 14 kg.

Cold Trap base detail
Base detail
Base overview
Base overview
Top view
Top view

As with “Oh My Darling”, “Cold Trap” has about 5 m of LED ribbon in the 7 cylinders. The cylinders vary in height by approximately the Golden Ratio. The LEDs are individually addressable via a controller installed in the base. The controller is programmed via a Smart Phone app. It has 200 different pre-programmed patterns, as well as full manual colour and brightness control.

“Cold Trap” is equally effective as a desk-top sculpture or as a ceiling lighting fixture. Either way, this Photo-Kinetic Sculpture is the highlight of any room.

A complete build log is here.

PDF presentation: Cold-Trap.pdf

Cold Trap video

Cold Trap DISPSY Limited Edition

Cold Trap with 4 Limited Edition DISPSYs

Based on a mapping mosaic from the Deep Space Program Science Experiment (commonly called “Clementine”), the DISPSY limited edition is a 3D-carved representation of the Lunar South Pole. Satellite imagery, along with earth-based RADAR scans, have proven that there is a substantial quantity of water at the Lunar south pole. This light sculpture is an expression of this valuable knowledge.

The bases of the DISPSY series are made of MDF, with 4 coats of ChemTec epoxy for protection. The base is 350 mm diameter.  The single light cylinder has a total sculpture height of 490 mm. Yes, this is a “49er”.  The light cylinder is 50 mm Acrylic containing light-chasing LED emitters. The LED emitters are controlled via a phone app. There are over 200 pre-programmed patterns, in addition to complete manual control.

The 3D relief carving is an accurate translation of mosaic scans of the Lunar South Pole area. Vertical scale is not accurate, but was chosen for effect and machinability. There are random colour inclusions, meant to represent the concept of minerals. Yellow is for areas that might be permanently in the sun, blue for possible permanently shaded areas holding water. Green and orange are randomly applied, signifying possible mineral deposits.The epoxy coating is fairly rough, representing the likely surface texture of the lunar regolith.

The software is available from the Android and Apple App stores. It is called “Magic LED”. The parameters for the LEDs in the DISPSYs are: Controller SP105E, RGB WS2811 with 150 pixels.

Express your confidence in humanity’s future by featuring one of this limited edition of 4 light sculptures in your home or business! Each is numbered and signed.

“Cold Trap” and other Photo-Kinetic Sculptures are available for purchase. Please enter your information here.