Flux: A Forty Foot Long Kinetic Art Piece

No office space is complete without some eye-catching art piece to gawp at whilst you mull over your latest problem. But LED-based displays are common enough to be boring these days. Kinetic art pieces are where it’s at, and this piece called Flux is a perfect example.

Commissioned for the Toronto office of a very popular e-commerce platform and constructed by [Nicholas Stedman], Flux consists of twenty identical planks on the ceiling, arranged in a line forty feet long. Each plank has a pair of rotating prisms, constructed from a stack of foam sheets, finished with metallic paint. The prisms are spun by individual stepper motors, each of which is driven by a TMC2160-based module, making them whisper-quiet.

A simple 3D printed bracket holds a small PCB holding an AMS AS5600 rotary magnetic encoder, onto the rear of the stepper motor. This allows for closed-loop feedback to the shared Arduino, which is very important for a sculpture such as this. Each Arduino is hooked up to a Raspberry Pi, running a simple application written in node.js which is responsible for coordinating movement, as well as uploading updated firmware images as required. A simple, but very effective build, we think!

Even more fun are kinetic art installations that are reactive to some data source, such as Adad, which visualizes lightning strike data. If these builds are just too big and complex, we’ve seen many examples of smaller desktop toys, such as this 3D printed tumbling chain demo for example.

5 thoughts on “Flux: A Forty Foot Long Kinetic Art Piece

  1. I don’t understand why this is called kinetic… Kinetic describes how bodies move under the influence of forces [kinema: force]. It seems to be a cool installation, a fancy way to direct light and to be impressive at the same time. Would like to have this in my office, but I dislike the name -kinematic light would be more appropriate.

    Using rotating prisms or reflectors for different light scenarios, I hope to see more ideas here in the future!

    Greetings Georg

    1. Kinetic has various meanings, including “moving” which is appropriate in this instance. The root of kinetic is form the Greek “κινησις” meaning … movement.

  2. The concept is awesome. I’m interested to see what sort of fire-proofing and/or safety considerations were taken when the piece was designed. It appears to hang over a walkway which introduces safety concerns along with fire safety as it’s designed of foam. Not sure if you’ve experienced flaming globs of burning foam falling from a ceiling but it gives me nightmares. I’ve dealt with all of these issues in the past and wondered what precautions need to be taken with a ‘semi’ public permanent art piece. I’m assuming you have liability insurance.

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