Miguel Valderama “The Companion Project”

Miguel Angel Vaderrama’s Culmination Project New York City College of Technology Spring 2012

1, Generals

Structural Lighting

“The companion Project”

  1.1 Description: The “companion project” is a light installation that will light up elements (columns, beams, connectors) in the structure of the Williamsburg Bridge, following certain sequence patterns.     1.2 Background Research   1.2a InspirationI greatly admire the capacity of human technology for the creation, planning and construction of such marvelous projects. A bridge is the perfect example of a functional structure that also embodies beauty. In New York City people are surrounded by bridges that have been recognized, not only by their advanced construction techniques, but also by their astonishing beauty. Walking over a bridge can be quite an experience. Not only because it offers one of the best ways to appreciate excellent views of various boroughs but also because it makes it a great option for people who certainly enjoy their nights by an exhilarating walk.

I have walked over the Williamsburg Bridge numerous times. As I was doing it, I started thinking that people should be encouraged to walk the bridge more, especially non locals that want to go from the Lower East Side to Williamsburg or the other way around. These are two areas with strong artistic personality that make them a reference point for locals and visitors. One side of the Williamsburg Bridge is designated for bikers and the other for pedestrians. Designation of sides is a factor that increases dramatically the level of enjoyment that a person can experience when they walk the bridge. Today, pedestrians don’t have to worry about sharing a path with bikers riding at high speed from all directions, so they can feel comfortably safe while they are appreciating the view. This is very different from the Brooklyn Bridge where there is not designation and leisure is discouraged.

Williamsburg Bridge/Pedestrian side/ Direction: Brooklyn

    I started to look for ways in which I, as an interactive designer, can possibly enhance that experience. It seemed given to use Light as the communication channel to experiment with light, a medium that due to its immateriality does not compromise the integrity of the surfaces that are use. This is very important while working with a City’s landmark. The installation will have to guaranty the preservation of the structure. The installation will have to be assembled and taken down without leaving any change on the physical space. If I can control through Lighting the way that the elements on a bridge’s structure create and define the pedestrian’s visual field,  I’ll be also able to create a more personalize experience. The structural design of the bridge, almost unintentionally, allows a magnificent visual perspective, as it extends for almost 300 feet. A canvas of these conditions is rare, so it provides a great opportunity to paint an eloquent visual statement. I will use two of the most important properties of light to reinforce its visual impact: Color (creating color chasing and or mixing patterns) and movement (channel sequences defining speed). The idea is to help create, in the pedestrian’s mind, the feeling that the bridge is aware of him or her being there, while they walk the bridge, they enjoy the excellent view that it offers and choose walking instead another transportation method.       1.3 System’s Description   1.3a General The Installation, how it works The lighting installation will use strategically placed Photo Sensors that will communicate with Arduino the presence of a human walking through a specific location; consequently Arduino will send a command to a USB-DMX Interface (e-cue Butler XT) that will then send a command to a Color Kinetics PDS 750 (Power and Data Supply) that will make light up (in a specific order) an array of 40 to 60 Color Kinetic’s Color Blast. The Color Blast will be place on 40 to 60 consecutive columns of the bridge that are the closest to one of the sides of the pedestrian path, as the sketch and arrows on the picture show it.

                                      Sketch for Visual approximation

Williamsburg Bridge/ pedestrian side/ Direction: Brooklyn

  In order to technically make this to happen is necessary to write a code in Arduino (processing Language) that will be able to take the ON and OFF state of the photo sensor and translate this into something that the USB-DMX interface will be able to interpret as a triggering command. Then it can execute a number of cues that will be programmed into it. The conceptual idea of the installation requires Arduino to determine how often (or how many times) the beam of light of the photo sensor has to be broken before it triggers the Lighting event (lighting cue), as well as distinguish the direction that the person is walking in The idea behind making the triggering command happen after a certain number of times the photo sensor reports the presence of a human to Arduino, will make the “light event” special That the person who can experience the event will be kind of the “Lucky one”. It will also personalize the experience.  I will start by trying every fifteen, times or in other words 15 people, passing through the sensor


                                             “The companion Project” System’s flow Diagram

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