by Potluck

Shadows at Burien Arts-A-Glow, 2017. Photo by Patrick Robinson –

An equilateral triangle is suspended, point down. Light and sound are responsive to the participant’s location and movements, animating the sculpture. Together the participant and the sculpture become the art.

Our aim was to design and build an interactive light and sound sculpture with a simple yet dynamic control with bonus points for being light, easy to transport, and easily assembled.

The “Shadows” title is a play on the geometry and animation.  The lighting animations appear as if a participant’s arm were casting shadows from point-source lights in each corner… if the shadowed areas were bright and the not-shadowed areas were dark.  “Inverse Shadows” might be a more proper name, but either is too-clever-by-half and fails to capture what we’re doing with this. Moral of the story: never let engineers name things.

The brains of Shadows is a Moteino Mega, an Arduino clone with built in radio. We wrote custom code to read the three MaxSonar ultrasonic rangefinders, one in each corner of the triangle, and calculate the location of the object within the triangle.

Sounds corresponding to the distance to each corner are triggered by commands to an off the shelf audio board capable of playing sound clips from an SD card over a simple headphone jack.

Each light tube has a Moteino to receive location information wirelessly from the master Moteino and to calculate and display its animations on two strips of individually addressable LEDs.

More technical details can be found on our GitHub page.

Shadows was shown at Kiwi Burn 2017 in February, Critical Northwest 2017 in July, Lusio, Seattle 2017, and will be at Burien Arts A Glow in September 2017.

Email Brian at briandernst at gmail.