MEDA Reflection

Daniel Rozin is a contemporary artist renowned for his interactive pieces which closely resemble a mirror and the functions of a mirror. Upon scrolling through my tumblr feed, I came across ‘Pom Pom Mirror’ and I was immediately drawn to it, its concept and its execution. I thought it was extremely fascinating and intricate and I was left wanting to know more! What were the materials? How did it work? I thought it to be a perfect example of wonderment.

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The art gods were on my side as I found this work just as the topic of Arduino was the theme of the class and I soon realised that the two were very much so linked. Upon further research, it turns out that this particular work of Rozin’s consists of over 900 individual motors and the movements of the pom poms passing through each other was far too advanced for my limited mechanical knowledge. Despite this, I still wanted to pursue creating a replica of Rozin’s concept of reflection as a reaction but through the use of tiles which were mirrored on one side and black on the other and would flip 180 degrees according to a distance sensor detecting movement’s close by.

After talking with the dependable DMC Glenn, I was informed that the entire cost of material would be around $500 so I soon discarded the idea. Still wanting to work with motion-sensored reactive mirrored tiles, I considered the idea of lines or geometric structures to create a mirror. I then decided on the simple grid layout as it would replicate a real standard shaped mirror and would be most effective in creating wonderment as it is the most life like.

I had many questions regarding the functionality of it:

  • What kind of motors were needed to make the tiles move?
  • What range of motion did they possess?
  • Were these movements able to perform in the desired way?
  • How many motors were needed?
  • Would the size of the tiles would be influenced by the motion of the motors?

Through research and advice from educators, I found the answer to all the above questions. Servo motors would be the most suitable type of motor due to their rotating motion but they were unable to allow my tiles to complete a 180 degree flip.

Through experimentation with electrically charged magnets and a 4cmx4cm foam tile, I found they were not a viable option in trying the flip the tiles 180 degrees. I also connected a servo motor and foam tile via a solid wire to allow tile to flip rather than rotate. I finally came to the resolve that the tiles were to flip 90 degrees and I would construct a frame which would allow for the same visual as had it flipped 180 degrees (through having a black background).
By connecting the model that was the servo motor and tile attached on a wire to an Arduino and motion sensor, I was able to successfully create an operating prototype.

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After receiving great feedback from my classmates, I was able to grow my project and decided to take on the idea that the grid was a mirror from afar but the closer someone gets, tiles flip and grid becomes black. I found that this enhanced the sense of wonderment around my project as it promotes a greater sense of intrigue

The next steps are to determine which materials would be most appropriate to use, conclude what dimensions would be the most effective but also the most viable and source materials at the cheapest possible price. Then I need to construct the frame and pigeon holes for the motors and piece together the tiles. The final step would be to experiment with coding to determine the order in which tiles move and the range of distance the sensor will cover.

I so far have encountered many issues which were resolvable through experimentation. I forecast that my biggest issue will be with construction due to the exact nature of the task. Through undergoing this project so far I have learnt the importance of understanding how things work (both mechanically and visually) and that Arduinos are not as daunting as they seem.

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