Light Harvest is an interactive sculptural installation that explores a protein called Light-Harvesting Complex II (LHCII) in the realm of materials, digital fabrication, projection mapping and interaction design. This article gives an account of the making of Light Harvest, a collaboration between an artist/designer, a structural biologist, and an interaction design technologist. The artistic concepts in material construction and digital techniques are drawn from protein folding, sophisticated mapping processes in protein X-ray crystallography, and the remarkable abilities of LHCI proteins to convert full-spectrum visible sunlight to useful energy for life. Through its interactive installation, Light Harvest engages us in an appreciation and understanding of the biological processes studied and the scientific techniques used to study them.
Ruga Lumina investigates body–space relationships by leveraging digital fabrication and interactive technologies. Ruga Lumina is a spatial construct in the form of a smart luminous “skin” made of thin sheets of folded material that respond to the movement of live bodies within and surrounding its interior space. Spatial occupancy is registered through the use of smart technology; sensor information activates illumination and lighting effects, which, in turn, prompts perceptual and expressive aesthetic qualities as affects. This visual essay gives an account of the construction of Ruga Lumina at two exhibition sites: Detroit Center for Design and Technology (DCDT) in Detroit, Michigan, and 3Labs in Culver City, California. This account describes how bodies can be read and registered upon a spatial surface that points to a potential to re‐envision fundamental notions of surface interiority.
Installed on the site of Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Synergia is a public pavilion by the students of the IU School of Art, Architecture + Design in Bloomington, who were directed by me in my D475 design studio in Spring 2017 and in the summer of 2017 as volunteers. The graduate students of the IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, directed by Professor Andre Tovar and myself in our ME59700 course in Spring 2017 on designing complex origami-inspired structures, also participated at this project by conducting the structural analysis and optimization. Synergia is open to the public at Exhibit Columbus between August 26th and November 26th, 2017 in Columbus, Indiana.
Synergia embodies the reality of life, community, and harmony through its simple parts working together to create a complex and light-filled space. Sitting next to Eero Saarinen’s North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, the translucent quality of the light found in Synergia in the daylight alludes to the hushed secondary light radiating from the perimeter of Saarinen’s structure. Colored LEDs further illuminate Synergia at night, creating an ephemeral atmosphere as Saarinen’s concrete façade serves as a backdrop. The interplay of light and shadow, acting in conjunction with the movements of compression and expansion, creates a space that fosters peace and reflection.
The generative seed for Synergia is a bisymmetric space-filling polyhedron that tessellates the space when stacked in interlocking layers. Over five hundred of the polyhedrons, measuring about two to three feet each, work together to form elongated hexagonal units. This hexagon geometry echoes the overall geometry of Saarinen’s mid-century modernist architecture and at the same time serves as the building block of a complex and diverse structure in a way that is similar to the development of biological forms, soap bubbles, and crystal patterns.
Synergia is constructed of translucent corrugated plastic sheets that are made from recycled plastic and are one hundred percent recyclable. The plastic boards were laser cut at Noblitt Fabricating in Columbus Indiana and then hand folded like origami to form each of the structural units in the studio at IU. With a thinkness of about 4mm, the plastic corrugated boards are super lightweight and can be easily bended along the flutes. The simple origami folds add significant structural strength to the otherwise light and flexible plastic sheet material. Furthermore, when connected together to form the overall installation, the folded hinges produce an interconnected and interlocking self-supporting space lattice that is light and yet structurally sound, eliminating the need for additional framing and assemblage and thus minimizing the material wastes.
Students scoring the plastic board using a template by hand..
Special thanks: I would like to thank many individuals, including my colleagues at IU SoAAD (Kelly Wilson, Marleen Newman, Peg Faimon, Ryan Mandell, Tai Rogers), Exhibit Columbus members (Janice Shimizu, Josh Coggeshall, Anne Surak and Richard McCoy), community members of Columbus (Tricia Gilson, Jerry Karr, and “Bill” who lives near the North Christian Church and who is helping to ensure that the lights are on every night), and my most dedicated students Tristin Moore and Guanyao Li. Thank you all very much for helping with this project during its ideation, fabrication, construction, and installation process.
Japanese artist Mikako Suzuki led an engaging hands-on workshop to 14 participants, including IUB art students and Bloomington community artists, at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington, Indiana, on Friday, September 1st from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The workshop was translated by Rowland Ricketts, who is a professor in Textile at IU School of Art, Architecture + Design, and who has spent years studying Japnese indigo techniques in Japan.
Surihaku is a Japanese art of gold foil painting. Eacho of the participants learned to create stencil designs and transfer the design to three Washi paper postcards using gold foils. The Washi paper postcards were made in Japan in Professor Shibazaki’s papermaking lab at Aichi University of Arts. Professor Shibazaki also gave a talk on Washi paper during the second part of the workshop. The participants learned about the difference in the fibers that are used to make different types of Washi, Gampi, Mitsumata, and Kozo.
The video below shows Mikako demonstrating how to apply the Nori, a type of Japanese adhesive to the stencil.
The video below shows Mikako demonstrating how to apply the gold foil to the stencil.
Participants feeling the paper texture.
Professor Ricketts translatting for Professor Shibazaki.
A participant using the brush to get rid of extra foil.
Washi Art and Design, an international paper art exhibition, is the first group exhibition I curated and organized. The show runs from August 26th to September 21, 2017, at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington, Indiana. The participating artists are Yuri Kawai (Japan), Sachiko Kinoshita (Japan), Amanda Ross (U.S.), Rowland Ricketts (U.S.), Koji Shibazaki (Japan), Jenny Stopher (U.S.), Mikao Suzuki (Japan), Ruigan Zhou (China), and myself.
The Exhibition is focused on the theme of Washi and other paper art. Washi paper is made from the long inner fibers of three plants: Kozo (mulberry tree), Mitsumata, and Gampi. Due to these raw materials and the traditional craft techniques, Washi papermaking has no adverse environmental impact. The paper is very durable and can last as long as a few hundred years. In Japan, Washi has played a significant role in the lifestyle and culture of the Japanese people. In addition to its more common uses in stationary and in the fine arts, Washi is used in many different cultural activities such as in religious and ceremonial events. Its fabric-like quality makes it suitable for applications in fashion, interior lighting, and interior furnishing. Though there is a long history of Washi papermaking in Japan, today only a few Washi papermakers are continuing their papermaking traditions, and Professor Koji Shibazaki’s Washi research lab at Aichi University of Arts is one of them.
This article concerns the artistic and perceptual quality of translucent light transmitted by an origami-inspired paper surface when a light source is placed behind it. It describes my geometric strategies in origami design to create light art through the luminous effect of gradations of light. I first present historical background and related work on origami-inspired paper light art and origami tessellation designs. Case studies follow, focusing on geometric strategies for helical triangle tessellations, considering specific design requirements for creating functional folded light art.
Wu. J. (October 31, 2017). Method for Folding Flat, Non-rigid Materials to Create Rigid, Three-dimensional Structures. Patent No: US 9,803,826 B2. Washington DC: The United States Patent and Trademark Office
Priority Claim: The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent App. No. 61/893,519, filed Oct. 21, 2013, the entire disclosure of which is hereby expressly incorporated herein by reference.
Field: The present disclosure relates generally to creating rigid three-dimensional structures by folding flat, non-rigid materials. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to a method of folding a non-rigid material with a score or crease pattern into a three-dimensional structure for covering a light source.
In design history, the concept of ‘skin’ has been used to refer to the outermost tissue that encloses a physical body. So, if the concept of ‘skin’ can be understood as a generator of ideas for interiors that lie in between the flexible spaces around the body and the rigid spaces within the building, what new form and context can an interior skin take in adding to the contemporary interiority? Borrowing from the metaphor of ‘skin’ in fashion, interior design and architecture, Ruga Interior Skin (RIS) explores the ambiguous and conceptual realm connecting the act of wearing, inhabiting and its relationship between body, form, material, and surface-making of a novel interior semi-structural wall and partition. ‘Ruga’ is the Latin word for making wrinkles, creases, pleats, and folds. RIS is inspired by the use of wrinkling and folding to create flexible frameless topological forms that can be suspended in a way that is similar to a piece of cloth or textile. Both flexible and rigid, RIS draws the connection between the body and the interior surface, placing the dichotomy of permanent vs. ephemeral, solid vs. light, and material vs. digital at the center of the concept.
This summer I was invited to participate in an international paper art biennial at CODA museum in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. I exhibited Light Harvest, a large interactive installation art that is inspired by the intriguing protein structure of Light-harvesting Complexes (LHC). LHC contains pigments that absorb light and transfer the solar energy to chemical energy.
Installation of ceiling canopy for the protein structure at CODA, Apeldoorn, Netherlands
One of the large crates being made at the McCalla at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
Projection mapping at CODA, Apeldoorn, Netherlands
Three large crates, about 37.5″ D x 22.5″ H x 73″ L, and one small crate, about 28.5″ D x 19″ L x 33.5″ H, were shipped from Bloomington, Indiana, to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in early May. My team and I arrived in Apeldoorn in late May. We rented a small Airbnb house near the museum for four days and were able to walk to the museum to work every day. It was an enjoyable experience. On the first day, the museum staff helped us set up the ceiling canopy in the exhibition space. On the second and the third day, we worked on the paper structure installation and the technical setup. On the fourth day, we worked on the projection mapping.
After we arrived in Apeldoorn, Kyle Overton and I decided that we would try a new way of coding in Processing to produce a different interactive experience than the previous installation at the Grunwald Gallery. As a result, Kyle spent most of the four days writing 1500 lines of the codes! The Processing outputs a smooth gradation of cool blue and green hues, to be projection-mapped onto the folded Light Harvest protein structure. The green and blue gradation of light, projected from three projectors, mimics the deep water in which certain photosynthetic algae with a particular class of phycobilin pigments live. Each pigment, contained within LHC, has a unique absorption spectrum, allowing it to absorb certain wavelengths of light. These particular algae, appearing to be red, can carry out photosynthesis in deep water where the wavelengths of blue-green lights are most abundant by absorbing blue-green and reflecting red! When viewers enter the exhibition floor and interact with each chain of Light Harvest, the chain will turn into red-orange color. The interaction means to let the viewers know that photosynthesis is in action!
I would like to say thank you the CODA Museum staff, particularly Roosmarij Deenik and Helma Peters for helping to turn this project into a reality.
Jiangmei Wu (with Kyle Overton and Susanne Ressl)
Production team: Steven Dixon, Siqiao Gao, Dexter Wu