Aperiodic Industries undertook the design and build of Wilmington Waves from a concept developed by Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess. Hess worked with numerous people to realize the light diffusion technology, interactive control system, and a method to suspend the artwork effectively.
Early concept art depicted the piece as a line of light, although that line was always meant to be a placeholder as we researched materials which were not subject to weathering in the extreme environment in the port of Los Angeles.
After months of origami perforated prototypes, primarily executed by Sasaki, Brian Janeczko, and Hess a series of designs were selected to test with light fixtures. At the same time the most competitive plastic solution was tested, its nanoscopic metal suspension made it an optimum light diffuser but its personality seemed less like water.
After testing light output with a number of approaches the plastic solution was found to be optimal. Patricia Chai and Robbie Nock spent weeks assembling the structure with the help of Kevin Crooks, Hess and David Casey.
Numerous tests were engaged on site to determine the proper density of lighting to prevent a “fairy lights” appearance. While a system was developed to clamp the LED light source to the diffuser for maximum light transfer and to allow for easy maintenance.
Meanwhile Hess and Casey were working on the control system. Custom designed Raspberry Pi DMX systems which could communicate with one another wirelessly and manage a network of ultrasonic sensor to create a cohesive lighting effect which simulated the tides, as well as the interaction of people on the bridge, such that they could send waves to other bridges and follow them.
The piece came together flawlessly, although upon installation we realized made some slight changes to optimize the appearance and visual performance of the structure. We had many points of adjustment to precisely tune the alignment of the support rods but eventually decided it looked more natural with a loose, less mechanical layout, and so we looked to try to create a wavy line as opposed to a straight line, and it looks better!
…check back for updates as we complete the wireless sensor network…