Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rain or Shine, Dusk 'till Dawn, Dust or Bust

Lumia Grande was unstoppable, a real trooper. A true burner to the core. We are so proud. More photos on Flickr. More details to come ...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back Hatch Mural

The plaque in the center reads:
Lumia Grande is an ode to the inventor of lumia art, Thomas Wilfred (1889-1968). The term “lumia” was coined by Wilfred to declare light as a formal and official art form of it’s own. He created the Clavilux (also known as colour organs), as large scale projection machines and performed concerts for the public starting in the 1920’s. The Clavilux created fluid streams of slowly metamorphosing color that has been described as “cosmos in a box”. These early works are considered to be the inspiration for modern psychedelic light shows. Wilfred went on to found the Art Institute of Light of New York, and is said to have co-founded a group called the Promethians who were “dedicated to exploring spiritual matters through modern artistic expression.”

In this example of lumia art, Lumia Grande stores light from the sun over the period of day and uses that energy at night to sculpt random compositions of color, forms and shapes that change slowly over time. It’s this idea, the dimension of time defined by light, that provides a unique experience which slows our pace and invites us to explore and surrender to the visions before us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

First Glimpses

Lumia Grande is looking forward to your visit. This still photo taken in the dark doesn't quite do the colors justice, but it gives you a good idea of what she looks like.


Hmmm...we need to rethink the box that houses the lights. This thermometer only goes to 220.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Keep it simple

Oh the joys of defeat. The mural will not be happening for Burning Man this year. Put simply, we do not have time. Everything else (of course) has taken longer than expected.

So for the sake of keeping things simple yet still aesthetically pleasing, the Lumia will be a grande pillar of shining white. Her colors will glow and evolve at night and draw in you in like a moth to the flame. You will witness the cosmos. You will have visions that blend with those only previously seen inside your head.

In the words of Thomas Wilfred... no admission charge, no questions asked, no philosophy propounded... remain as long as you like, to rest your ears and bathe your soul in the slowly evolving sequences of radiant form, pure color and graceful motion.

posted by jenny

Monday, July 30, 2007

Projecting & Penciling

Once I got the hang of it, penciling in the outlines was easy as pie with the projection. Of course I penciled in the wrong design the first time around and had to erase and start again. But that is why we use pencil, no? Paint begins next weekend and I will be paying better attention!

posted by jenny

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mad Dylan-tropolis-ish

I'm feeling like it's time to get the painting started this weekend. I've been working on a few designs for the 3 wood sides, and I think we're going with this direction. It's an abstract representation of how the box works. The back (center panel) represents the storage of solar energy and has a written story about the project. The sides act as the color that is reflected on the front screen, which might also imply the look of a root system or veins. I want the paint to be more like a wash rather than solid color. I did a quick sample in my sketches, but will really just need to see what the paint can do on the wood. My goal is to aim for a blend between modern-pop and post apocalyptic. Kind of like Milton Glaser's Bob Dylan poster meets the sun bleached world of Mad Max and the futuristic Metropolis. Yikes, well see.

transparent color samples

full layout (click for a larger view)

posted by jenny

Pulse Width Modulator. Check.

Ian rocks the pulse width modulator (insert sound of punk rock guitar here). Thanks Ian! Shown below are Lumia's inner workings. On the left is the board that holds the panes of glass and the bulb mounted on the backside (bosco is building the LED configuration). On the right is a prototype of the gear box which will also eventually hold the reflective pinwheel on one side and the motor on the other. In the middle of these is the green and mysterious pulse width modulator. It allows us to slow the RPM down 50%. The gears will do the rest. Dave is in charge of the math for this. By the way, it's me Jenny doing these recent postings. Dave has been busy building! But pretty soon I'll be busy painting ...

click for a close up view

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More, more, more

We've now got Lumia Grande in the dining room. Standing tall. It took us about 3 hours. Add the heat, wind and dust factor and I'm sure the actual assembly will take at least twice as long. We color coded the labels so they're easier and quicker to spot. The sleek milky screen is really pretty. And then we rigged it up and plugged her in, and it was so great to see how cool she actually looks. We're not posting those photos yet so no spoilers here.

Sneak peak from the back.

The new shiney reflector.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The box, 8ft x 4ft

It's getting closer. Frame is done, support braces done, plexi screen purchased, plywood skin purchased.

Pictured here, it's laying on it's side and tucked away in Dave's basement. It'll have to be unassembled and reassembled again outside one it's further along (it can't fit through the door). It's still needs a base, and a hinged panel on the back for access.

We'll use a ladder to place solar panels up top, I think. Plan is still foggy on that.


One of the things we've learned is that we need to reduce the rpm of the lumia down to .5 in order for it to feel slow enough. We'll be doing this 2 ways, by regulating the voltage to slow down the motor (without losing adequate torque) and then by using gears to further slow down to our end goal.

The picture below shows the motor on the right and our first prototype of gearing which results in .5 rpm. Dave has since acquired some really nice metal gears off ebay, and he's hoping to be able to make adjustments to be able to use the new gears.

Bits, pieces, parts and motors

We found HSC Electronics Supply in Santa Clara. Nerdtastic.

Refurbishing Solar

We have some older panels that Bosco got used, and here we are cutting away the old discolored plastic film that covers the entire panel. We're hoping this will let more light through so they can provide a better charge ... and we'll then cover the surface with a sheet of plexi or something like that. 1 panel done, 4 to go.


Jenny and her mad skills created a very cool logo for the Lumia Grande. See it at the top of this blog page. What do you think?

Lumia Grande Burning Man Project

I'm hoping that this project can be a bit of a collaboration among some of us. I made some notes within the text mentioning where I might need help vs. the parts that I can deal with myself.

What is the inspiration...
Lumia Grande is an ode to the original inventor of the Lumia art form, Thomas Wilfred. This is a project that I have been thinking about building for the past 15-20 years. I was first introduced to a version of Lumia art when I was a teenager. My parents owned a box shaped light that could be best described as a “psychedelic mood lamp”. I would find myself staring at this for hours being completely intrigued and fixated by the forms that it created. I finally took it apart to find out what was responsible for making such amazing imagery. I always thought how cool it would be to build a much larger version of this device.

Quote from Eugine Epstein a Lumia art collector and aficionado...

"Conventional artists manipulate materials [stone, pigments, etc.]. These ‘objects’ reflect light into our eyes to form the images they want us to see. If there were no light, we could not experience their art. In contrast, Wilfred ‘sculptured’ light directly."

Skip forward 20 years… a bit of research on the web and I have been overwhelmed by the depth of information regarding the term which was coined by Wilfred in the early 1900’s to describe “an eighth art” where light would stand on its own as an expressive art form. This is truly the act of sculpting light into a random composition of intensities, color, form and shape that changes slowly over time. I have chosen to take this concept and enlarge the scale and bring it to a perfect stage framed by the vast barrenness of the desert and lack of light during night hours.

What form will it take...
This is the part that I can easily handle.. the other bits when related to electicity and solar and such are going to require some assistance. :) The largest single piece of plexi that I can find is 4 feet x 8 feet... so that will be about the overall size of things. I am not sure of the exact depth yet, but I am guessing that it will be about 4 feet deep. The depth will be primarily based on how far back the bulb needs to be in order to correctly focus the light on the viewing plane. I will probably just use 4 pieces of 2"x6" lumber to construct the frame. The plexi-glass will sit inside this frame. The rest of the box will be constructed out of 1/2" plywood. The entire piece needs to be assembled on site, not an option to transport this fully built.

Always think safety net...
Lumia Grande will be secured to the ground via 2 to 4 pieces of rebar hammered into the playa deep enough to hold things tight. The other ends of the rebar will just be connected to the plywall or 2x6 frame. Solar garden lights will be used to define an area surrounding the piece and will help illuminate for safety during night time hours. Anyone have one of those rebar hammer things?

How will it be powered...
I'm going to be needing some help with this stuff as I usually try to stay away from things that can shock me. A solar panel on top of the piece will charge (1 or 2) deep cycle 12v batteries. Will be needing a solar panel.. probably can just get batteries as Costo. I am only guessing at the energy usage at this point but will need some help to determine how much juice is really necessary. I would assume that some type of LED light will be much better for energy consumption when compared to a regular incandescent. Some experimentation might be needed here to see how these light types work in this situation. A small 12volt motor will also need to be wired into the system. The motor needs to spin slowly or be geared in a way so that it turns the reflector at the correct speed.

Interaction and viewing experience...
This piece will not be interactive in a traditional sense. The viewer will not have any control over the speed, color, intensities of shapes and forms that they see. It is hard to predict what interaction might occur among the viewers, but I could imagine that many discussions will be spawned during or after viewing. Many assumptions to the inter-workings of the piece will be sure to perplex. Although primarily it’s an intimate experience that differs with each viewer, I have been compelled in the past to try to explain what I am seeing with others around me in an effort to share my personal experience. I am very excited to observe and discuss this experience with others to share.

What does it look like?
This is a photo of the small scale mood lamp that was originally owned by my parents. The light is projected onto a semi-opaque or milky piece of plexi-glass. The shapes rotate slowly over time while the colors also change.

Click here to see it in motion.

How does it work?
The inner workings of this is actually quite basic. Although I will be needing some significant help to deal with currents and voltage and soldering etc. A bulb emits light through glass color filters and then the colored light is reflected via a slowly rotating silver Mylarplastic pinwheel type object. The pieces that I have seen from Wilfred were based on a much more complex design of mirrors, lights, lenses and multi-colored discs that also rotated making an almost limitless combinations of form and color. I did read something regarding how Wilfred did calculations on how often the patterns could statistically be repeated.

Some links to other cool art stuff:
Wikipedia Thomas Wilfred

More information on Thomas Wilfred and his Clavilux Jr.

Site dedicated to Light Art and Lumia



A film about Lumia Art

Cal Tech Lumia Article

Yale University Archive of Wilfred's materials

Color Organs