The Electromagnetic Fountain

Posts Tagged ‘installation

More photos from Article 08

leave a comment »

EMF dawn_02 EMF_dawn_01

EMF dawn_03 EMF_watching

EMF_girls_02 EMF_girls_01

EMF_group EMF_curious


EMF public test run

with 2 comments

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:-)

Success! 6 jets working!

leave a comment »

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.

An exciting day at Frank’s workshop

leave a comment »

So, I finally arrived in Skien and got my first glimpse of the Electromagnetic Fountain for real in Frank Ralle’s workshop!

EMF jets

Here it is, with 6 nozzles mounted on the bowl which rests on a square-shaped base.
Here’s the base with the bowl taken off, and upside down.

EMF base EMF base 2

There I discovered a hexagon within which three triangular chambers are in construction. I am fascinated by the way Frank has thought about the geometry of the whole construction – drawing various geometric forms out of the pentagon/circle form. It is all very alchemic.

The 3 chambers will hold the fountain’s electrical components.

1. The computer (Mac mini), 2 rgb led light controllers, cls dmx dimmer, LAN box LCX, Alesis sound interface and Milford Electronics DMX switch/relay box.

2. The “wet” components – 2 pumps and 5 solenoid valves.

3. The EM sniffers.

We start to find out where the components in chamber 1 should be placed (R photo).

I like the look of the base upside down – it looks like something that could be landing on Mars sometime.

Here’s the marking’s Frank has made on the hexagon for drilling holes that will carry cables up to the 8 rgb lights and the 4 EM sniffers that Martin Howse has made (still waiting for them to arrive from Berlin).

Hexagon Marking the hexagon

And here he is drilling holes!


The central jet nozzle and 3 rgb lights will be mounted on this construction …..

EMF Central Jet EMF Central Jet 02

But first it needs a bit of work ….


At some point during the day Marius The Electrician arrives to plan the work he will start tomorrow – namely connecting all the various cables to the various components together in a safe way so that folks won’t get electrocuted.

Marius the electrician EMF base

Marius works for NLI Engineering AS, the company who is responsible for projecting my project. It is obvious that this project provides him with a challenge, but he is smart, dedicated and easy to talk to, so we work through various unknown factors together – reading manuals, asking questions, etc. I discover errors on the product list. there are 2 rgb led lights missing, as well as various cables. Atle Barcley, the producer, rushes around following things up. (Sorry Atle, I didn’t get a photo of you).

At the end of the day I take a walk outside. I discover that Frank’s workshop lies on the river that flows between Prosgrund and Skien. So some pictures of the surroundings follow …. and note the beautiful summer sunshine that accompanied the day ….

Brødrene Ralle AS Junk

A strange machine Friends in the back yard

Workshop view 02 Workshop view 01

It has been a great day. It is an undescribable feeling to see something imagined taking form in the real world ……

Written by ajsteggell

October 6, 2008 at 10:21 pm