Jason McDermott and Liam Ryan (of Arup) and Frank Maguire have designed, constructed and installed an innovative light artwork in Circular Quay, Sydney for the Vivid 2011 festival. The team designed Social Firefly, a community of friendly intelligent lights that influence one another. The fireflies are programmed to respond to light from their neighbours, popular fireflies become highly influential, whilst isolated fireflies must work harder to reach their friends. By shining lights on to the fireflies, audience members speak the same language and influence the interaction between community members.
Social Firefly is a demonstration of how interaction design can be dynamic, beautiful and playful, as well as teaching us about our relationship to other creatures with which we share this earth. Inspiration came from lateral and cellular communication systems such as those used by fireflies in synchronizing their rhythms and slime molds in movements through caves, which collided with network theories and cascading relationships between the parts and the whole. These were then shaken together with the Vivid 2011 theme of Fiat Lux and user centered interaction design to create the light installation that is Social Firefly.
The team used batch fabrication methods to develop the firefly casings and internal components. The fabrication technologies included SLA 3D printing, plywood and acrylic laser cutting, polystyrene vacuum forming. Each unit contained 95 components all sourced individually for this project, 30 bespoke components designed and fabricated by in-house talent. Over 4800 parts in total to bring the fireflies into the tree. The electronic components were sourced and constructed specifically for this project but Arduino Pro mini, formed the core component.
(via Creative Applications)
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