Chromatic Play is a sculptural installation at Guildford Castle created by visual artist and researcher Tine Bech and the Surrey Light Project, an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Surrey. The exhibition relates to research interests of the artist and project team, and it also represents an important collaboration between Guildford Borough Council and the University of Surrey, through the medium of public art. MILES
The Project Brief
I was contacted by artist (and researcher) Tine Bech about software and hardware design of an interactive electronic lighting system for a project in the Guildford Castle. We had worked on an light based project before, Tine’s wonderful Light Pot, but this was a much more challenging problem.
The project brief was on integrating scientific research on light with that of creative engagement. This allowed, not only opportunities to learn how light can affect the brains activity, but also human creative though can respond to light.
Previously completed research has shown that certain wavelengths of light can be responsible for invoking different feelings and reactions in us. Blue light (~464nm), for example, has been show to keep us alert. How does this change our experience of the exhibition ?Visitors to the installation would contribute to the research through questionnaires with emphases on open-ended questions.
The location was chosen as the Guildford Castle. It offered a perfectly suited environment to fulfil the objectives of the research proposal. Often, visitors would pass through the interior room of the castle to the main attraction, the viewpoint on the roof. This interior space has been fitted with a modern floor and ceiling whilst leaving the bare walls of the caste visible.
Invalid Displayed Gallery
Given the research proposal, the system design would be centred around modularity and flexibility. It should allow easy (and ideally central) reprogramming of interactive behaviour to work in any space in the future. Also, research enabling enhancements such as interaction logging were included at the hardware design stage.
With this project being in a heritage space, we also had some serious constraints placed on us, the castle itself could not be touched, nothing could be fixed to the walls and only the false ceiling could be modified or used in any way. In this case the entire system had to communicate over wireless radio.
The entire system was built from the ground up with the inclusion of wireless modules and a central point of control (PCB Design, production, right up to programming all custom) to suite these needs.
The Arduino platform was used to programme the ATMEL ATMEGA328p (in our case TQFP-32 package) microprocessors and were chosen and the final system was essentially based on the work completed for my final year project (Report Here) (Blog Posts)
Wireless communication was managed by a series of 433MHz ALPHA RF Transceiver Modules. These are low budget modules offering an SPI interface (read more here) and looking back, sticking to the sub 1Ghz band allowed us better signal propagation around the castle which has walls up to 10 foot thick in some places!
Construction and Installation Photographs
Opening Event Photography
More information can be found on Tine’s site here: http://www.tinebech.com/Artwork/Interactive/ChromaticPlay/