“Phenomena” @ CUBE Gallery, Feb. 1-27 2011

8 February 2011

Phenomena is a group exhibition @ CUBE Gallery featuring seven artists’ take on climatic, astronomical, or geological phenomena.

Alongside work by Aili Kurtis, Paul Schibli, Guy Lavigueur, Jennifer Gibbs, Reid MacLachlan, John Roth, and Tony Broderick, I’m debuting work exploring new themes for me: a light piece controlled by the colour of the sky.

The light patterns displayed by Sky Spectrum are directly related to the current sky conditions above Ottawa’s Peace Tower.  Every few minutes, the sky portion of the Hill Cam is analysed to reveal the average red, green, and blue components present in the sky.  The light fixture responds according to the various relationships between these values, presenting an altered view of the sky above, revealing colour details and relationships invisible to the naked eye.

The literal reference to the sky is echoed by the graphic processing portion of the piece which takes place on a remote webserver, in essence utilizing “cloud computing.”

Most of the work indeed takes place on my webserver, where a PHP script analyses the current Hill Cam pic with the GB library.  A small hardware module (hidden in the gallery) consisting of an Arduino development board and ethernet shield fetches the data from the web every few minutes, and sends the data via XBee radio to the light fixture, which is controlled by a custom board with an ATmega328 (running the Arduino bootloader), TLC5940 for driving the LED strips, and an XBee.

The code is only preliminary at this point, and I plan to analyse the daily data collected from the sky to make a growing library of light patterns and blends.  I’m also excited about how scalable the concept is, and look forward to working with this idea on a larger scale.

The Phenomena exhibition runs until Feb. 27, so if you’re in the Ottawa area, please drop by CUBE Gallery (1285 Wellington Ave., W) to check it out.  The best time to view Sky Spectrum is between 4 and 6 pm when the sun is setting and the sky changes relatively quickly :)

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