The Electromagnetic Fountain

Posts Tagged ‘art

More photos from Article 08

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EMF dawn_02 EMF_dawn_01

EMF dawn_03 EMF_watching

EMF_girls_02 EMF_girls_01

EMF_group EMF_curious

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Automagic start up?

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So, I’ve been in Stavanger setting up the EMF for the Article 08 since Monday. It has been a constant, 20 hour/ day process of trial and error. Breifly ……

Luckily, before I arrived some hunky firemen filled the fountain bowl with water – necessary to stop it being carried away or tipped over.
Unluckily, the bowl was mucky when it arrived, and the water consequently very murky.

Dirty water

(Photo: Geir Tore Aamadal)

Luckily, I managed to clean the bowl today by taking out just enough water to keep the pumps running, using a cloth to remove the gunge, and filling the bowl up again with 56 buckets of water.

Luckily, the fountain appeared to survive its journey, with pumps and lights all working fine.
Unluckily, and as in Porsgrunn, the dmx relay box has been cutting out. The fountain runs for anything up to 9 hrs and then the relay box ceases to function.

Light splash

(Photo: Geir Tore Aamadal)

Luckily, the weather was okay for the first 2 days, and I had two very helpful assistants, Geir Tore and Evy, who even washed my dirty clothes for me.
Unluckily, the weather changed and it has been raining and windy – making it difficult to work outside.

Evy and me

(Photo: Geir Tore Aamadal, Evy on the left)

Unluckily, the computer is damaged and does not like starting up at all.
Luckily I buy a new one on down payment, which makes problem solving a lot easier.
Unluckily it contributes to breaking the budget.

Luckily Pepe is on hand to send me my Griffin usb sound interface (from Oslo) in an attempt to get a better sound input from the EM sniffer.
Unluckily the fountain does not respond favourably to it, so I go back to minijack/line sound input.

Luckily I manage to make contact with John of Milford Electronics (who sold me the relay box) who suggests various issues connected to my problem.
Luckily the problem seems to be resolved with a new power adapter.

Luckily, now everything seems to be working, Trond Lossius is on hand via Skype from Bergen to help me by making an “automagic” (is this a spelling mistake, or his humour?) start-up max/msp patch out of the one that is currently functioning.

13.17 hrs

Luckily, Geir Tore offers moral support, reading me Trond’s instructions, because I’m too tired to rely on my own brain operating sequentially.

Unluckily, once installed on the fountain’s mac, everything works except that the fountain’s water jet patterns do not change.

Luckily, Trond helps out, taking me through the various parts of the patch step by step to resolve the problem. Some of the max externals have not been copied over to the new mac, and I’m missing some column data that is vital for changing the aqua-ography.

Skype 15.33 hrs Skype 20.52 hrs

I am waiting for daylight to test the revised patch on the fountain. This is partly because of the wind and rain, and partly because I really need to see if the fountain keeps running (particularly the valves) for a longer period of time if I am going to leave it for 10 days on Monday.

Tomorrow it is Friday, which leaves one day left to get the EMF stable for the opening of the exhibition.

EMF public test run

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Between 12pm and 9am on 8-9th November the Electromagnetic Fountain went through a public test run before leaving for Stavanger to take part in Article 08, 15-30 November. It stood on the town hall square (Rådhusplassen) during “Kulturnatt” in Porsgrunn, Norway, and, though the weather was horrid for much of the time (rain, wind, hail) the fountain appealed to the people who managed to make it to the town square when the rain occasionally stopped:

EMF at Kulturnatt 01 EMF at Kulturnatt 02

EMF at Kulturnatt 03 EMF at Kulturnatt 04

EMF at Kulturnatt 05 EMF at Kulturnatt 06

EMF at Kulturnatt 07 EMF at Kulturnatt 08

The fountain performed beautifully for the first 7 hours. After that the 5 pentagon water jets stopped working. The reason was discovered the next day – a bad connection on the dmx relay box.

The exercise was very useful.

Setting the fountain up the day before the event took almost twelve hours! It was quite an ordeal:

The weather conditions:
Rain, wind, hail and very cold – made it hard to protect the electronics from getting wet during set up.
Solution: For initial set up, use a car boot to house a computer screen, keyboard and mouse. Use Remote Desktop after that (haven’t had time to set it up and try it out yet – so that’s something to prepare for in Stavanger.

Water leaks:

Fixing the leak

The leakage in the pumps and valves that should have been fixed previously were only attended to during the set up time.

The Antenna Box
The antenna box/cable was not finished until 17.30, at which point it started to get dark. I could not test the fountain properly until this had been done.

Fuse goes on start up:
The fuse that protects the electronics went several times when the fountain was turned on, and the mac mini did not respond favorably to this. It seemed like a critical situation, but all went well after a couple of cold start ups.
Solution: plug in the electricity with the fuses off, and then trun them on. This seems to work fine.

Though only the central water jet was working, I left the fountain on to run over night, primarily because I wanted to test the software for a longer period, which I haven’t had the opportunity to do before.

Sunday morning:

A small period of almost rainless conditions allowed Atle and myself to check out the problems with the fountain on Sunday morning. The software was still running fine, but ……

Signal failure to 5 valves:
The problem with the signal failure to the five electronic valves, though identified, is not yet really solved. I have no idea what caused the bad connection. It started to work when I took the dmx relay box out of the fountain base chamber to take a look at it.

Air accumulation in the water system:
There seems to be an accumulation of air in the water system after the fountain has been running a while. This affects mainly the pump that serves the 5 pentagon jets. The result, very low jets and a noisy pump that affects the VLF sniffer output.
Solution: make sure that the air is removed from the water system each day.

We just had time to check these things out and empty the fountain basin before the lorry arrived at 12.00 to transport it to Stavanger.

EMF in transit

I’ll have four days to set it up in Stavanger in preparation for the Article 08 exhibition, and I must admit that the task seems a bit daunting. I had hoped to attain a greater degree of stability by this time. The main problem has been the co-ordination of the construction and electrical work in relation to the demands of programming and testing the fountain, and has pushed my nerves (and probably everyone else’s) to the limits. However, I really enjoyed watching how people took to the fountain during the rainless periods, and, though I say it myself, I think it looks stunning at night!

The only thing to do is to remain positive, and hope for some undestanding in relation to the problems that need to be solved. Though a bit wet and windy at times weather does not look too hopeless from tommorrow evening until next Friday, with temperatures between 4-9 degrees. Wednesday may also see some sunshine:-)

EMF article in the Weekly Technical Magazine

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Here’s a link to an article about the Electromagnetic Fountain by Stein Jarle Olsen, published in the Norwegian Weekly Technical Magazine, 02.11.2008.

The article is called “Sprutende ingeniørkunst” in Norwegian, and I’m finding it hard to translate “sprutende” to English. Shooting, splashing? The best word I can hit on is ejaculating. Discussing the problem in the kitchen of Canadian artist (and my hostess with the mostess) Vicki Moulder, we come up with two alternative English titles:

1. Ejaculatory Engineering Art
2. The Art of Engineered Ejaculation
Other alternative suggestions welcome :-)

(photo by Stein Jarle Olsen)

Written by ajsteggell

November 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Success! 6 jets working!

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On the last day of the second session and main EM Fountain work time in Skien, the 6 jets finally came into action. It took a long time to find out how to wire the dmx relay box to the relay box that serves the electronic valves with electricity ……

Relay box 1 Relay box 2

Fiddle 6 Fiddle 5

Fiddle 3 Fiddle 2

Producer Observing data

Smiles 6 jets!

What became clear when we saw the fountain in action was that it was most lively without a cell phone installed by the antnenna.  The antnenna picked up ambient disturbances in the electromagnetic environment and the fountain responded with a rich variety of chorepgraphic patterns, jet heights and light blinky-blinks. Then, when you come close-ish to the antenna with a cell phone, the feedback is instantaneously perceptible, with a uniform choreography and all jets on full height. It is beautiful and sense making. But it is hard to say if the fountain will react likewise when it is moved to a new location …..

I now have a break for a week (going to show the Emotion Organ at the ACM Annual conference and exhibition at Science World/Vancouver). After that I have another 3 full days in Skien where all the remaining things need to be done to get the EMF ready for meeting the public – not in the least is to see if it will run on its own steam for 24 hours and more. The first preview will be in Porgrunn town square on 8th November, where it will stand for 24 hours before travelling to Article 08, Stavanger.

Houston, we have one less problem

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It was a very busy day today.

It started with nothing much going on, so I fiddled around, adjusting this and that. Then Frank Ralle came and fixed the pump tubes. He also reminded me of something that he previously told me that I should do – get rid of the air in the pumps each time the water is drained out of the fountain bowl. Silly me. By 14.40 the central jet sprang out of the bowl reaching a height that must exceed 4m. Fab!

At 15.00 most of the NLI Engineering AS team turned up, as well as a journalist from the Weekly Technical Magazine (Teknisk Uke Blad) to interview us all and take photos. It was a pity that the relay box and the last 2 rgb lights hadn’t arrived, but at least one jet was behaving very nicely. The seance lasted about 2 hours, so I hope he’ll write some good stuff.

During the evening the fountain took part in an open day at Klosterøya – a good opportunity to get some feedback, even though the fountain isn’t finished yet. Several of the people who work at Bautas turned up which made me very happy. Below is the only half-decent photo I have of the fountain in operation. It doesn’t really give a good impression of the water jet, and shows the need for 2 more lights to capture the height of the jet at night.

Water!

Lastly, here’s a screenshot of the max patch for the EMF that was made with the help of Trond Lossius at BEK last week. (Some of the sub-patches can be found on my Flickr site. Click the image below to get there).

Prototype_2

Written by ajsteggell

October 21, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Houston, we have a problem

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Inspection_02 Houston, we have a problem
L-R: Atle (ROM3), Svein Kjetil, Øystein and Geir (NLI Engineering)

Had a meeting today with the project group from NLI Engineering AS to go over the water pressure and leakage troubles, as well as the electronic valve issue. Contrary to the idea of getting a 3rd pump to help/feed the two existing ones was the suggestion to address the “visible” faults – the angles and bends in the tubes running from the nozzles to the pumps and valves. The electronic valve issue should be solved with a relay box that supplies the valves with electricity, and is triggered by signals from the existing switch box. If this works, it won’t be too costly, and could be completed by Wednesday. Perhaps I will see the water jets working by the time I have to leave on Sunday.

The software still keeps running!

I am feeling positive :-)

(PS: Just got a call from my flat in Oslo – the water pipes in the bathroom are leaking – and water it running down into the flat below. This cannot be happening!)

Written by ajsteggell

October 20, 2008 at 9:37 pm