FOOLS GOLD

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…and then there was light.

In terms of lighting, we’re on to Plan B already. Plan A was based around LEDs and an arduino unit with programmable interactive light animations by talented electrical engineer and programmer Evan Gillespie.

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LEDs are a magical medium, but it seems we’ve had no luck with them in terms of reliability and adaptability. Amazing LED artists like Leo Villareal spend months, sometimes years, programming and troubleshooting to create mind boggling LED masterpieces. We just aren’t there yet. Plus, we secretly adore analog technologies.

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After much fiddling, some complications with brightness, and then accidentally frying our arduino unit, we bit the bullet and moved on to a more rudimentary lighting source: a 400 watt high pressure sodium light bulb. (Our thanks and gratitude to Evan Gillespie for his enthusiasm and whole-hearted attempts.)

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Sodium halide light bulbs are extremely bright and low-efficiency (for a single light bulb, that is. The ratio of lumens to electricity consumption is still incredibly high). They can be found in hockey arenas and warehouses all over the country. Our bulb is a small, canary-yellow number that’ll boil your eyeballs if you wander too close.

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In many ways, it’s a fortunate turn of events for us – she’s very very bright, and perhaps several steps closer to the golden hour yellow that we’re searching for. The bulbs also appears up to the task of lighting our homemade fiber optic system – yellow acrylic rods.

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Our next challenge is re-incorporating the interactive elements of SOLAR FLARE into more pedestrian technologies. How can we maintain brightness, while also allowing for the organic and variable elements of human/art interaction? How can we stay true to the conceptual roots of the piece while dramatically altering our lighting plans? How, logistically, can we fit everything inside the aluminum core of the structure?

SOLAR FLARE has grown and changed so much since its original conception. The real question becomes: how can we allow ourselves creative flexibility while still capturing the heart of the beast? And will we know the difference between fools gold and the real deal?

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The other half of our recent adventures have been on the wintery rooftops of buildings in downtown Calgary… but that’s another story, belonging to another day.

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