Artist Daric Gill is displaying a new piece of interactive art at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. “The Imagination Machine” is an interactive light sculpture that communicates with NASA, is motion sensitive, tells time, and has a feature that can be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world. It is made from the wing of a Flying Flea aircraft, strips of individually programmable LEDs (NeoPixels), and the brains of a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller circuit board: the Adafruit Huzzah32 Feather with ESP32 wi-fi board & Adalogger RTC.
This wing has been enhanced with new parts and imagines what it may be like to take flight in outer space. Looking up to the heavens, its onboard brains communicate with NASA’s open database using a unique online key. Each time the International Space Station passes directly over the wing, it gets excited and displays a special light show of vibrant blues. When not activated by the nearby space station, a set of motion sensors wakes it up to perform a slowly undulating pattern of pastel colors for approaching visitors. Additionally, on the hour, the wing pulses white, showing the passing of time.
The artist writes to Adafruit:
As a full-time artist, “The Imagination Machine” has been my main focus for a little over 9 months. I’m thrilled to see it in such a grand space. As you may read in the articles, it tracks the ISS using the NASA open API + Adafruit.io + IFTTT. It keeps time using the RTC. It also has some other codes onboard that I’m developing that will use more of the NASA’s API (tracking near earth orbit asteroids etc). I had always intended for the piece to make a connection from country to country as well. At the moment, I’m currently on an artist residency in Dresden, Germany. It’s ongoing exploration includes allowing my new friends here in Germany to say “Hello” to the sculpture in Ohio from my phone. Using using the Adafruit.io and my phone, they can trigger a special light show that connects two different cultures located an ocean apart.
Adafruit’s products and your documentation helped me make what I believe is my finest sculpture yet. But further than that, it connects local to global and global to the celestial. If you’d like, I’d be happy to continue updating you periodically with this series as it is made.
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