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A Kinetic Sculpture Arranges 804 Orbs From Order To Chaos

Using 804 rusty spheres, design studio Hypersonic have created a kinetic installation that represents the promise of biotechnology.
August 26, 2014, 3:50pm

Images courtesy of Hypersonic

To create its monumental, generative sculptures and installations, New York City-based design studio Hypersonic has collaborated with robotics firms including Amorphic Robotic Works, theoretical physicists like Janna Levin, and tech-art studio Sosolimited. Its work with the latter studio and Plebian Design, for example, led to the creation of _Patterned By Nature _a giant, ribbon-like hanging sculpture of LCD glass tiles that snakes its way down five stories of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Research Center (check our past coverage here).

For their most recent project, Breaking Wave, Hypersonic once again teamed up with Plebian Design to create a standalone system of 804 orange spheres which rise and fall in a concerted visual representation of how, within the perceived chaos of data sets, natural patterns eventually reveal themselves.

Breaking Wave from PLEBIAN DESIGN on Vimeo.

Like Patterned By Nature before it, Breaking Wave adheres to a set of qualities common throughout Hypersonic’s history of tech-monuments: it’s a sculpture whose activity is autonomous and follows patterns programmed from sets of data derived from nature. Housed in the lobby of world-class biotechnology company Biogen-Idec’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it stands as the all-engrossing centerpiece of the biotechnology-leading institution.

“Scientists search through billions of experimental data points in order to find patterns to develop new drugs, to treat Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, and other diseases,” says Hypersonic’s project description, in reference to Biogen-Idec’s field of work. “Without a particular framework or perspective, these are just 0’s and 1’s, with no form or information.

“But with the perspective of an understanding of molecular dynamics, these data points create a clear picture about the hidden dynamics within the body, and allow scientists to craft drugs to successfully treat these diseases.”

Suspended from 36 motorized rollers which move along the contours of a massive steel cam to create their wavelike movement, after Breaking Wave's 804 spheres rise and fall, the spheres amass into a disordered form loosely resembling electrons in an electron cloud. When observed from two specific spots in Biogen-Idec’s lobby, however, the viewer finds either a labyrinthian spiral, or a floral representation of the Fibonacci Sequence.

Below, the making of Breaking Wave:

Order From Chaos: The Making of Breaking Wave from ASKlabs Productions on Vimeo.

Ever the crowd-minded creators, Hypersonic has offered up the project’s Processing scripts for code-savvy users to create their own data-driven systems. You can find these at the bottom of the project’s documentation text.

Selectively housed Biogen-Idec's greeting area, this kinetic sculpture can be seen as a testimony to the hopeful processes of scientists in the pursuit of new pathologies. It’s also just a beautiful piece of generative art that anyone can appreciate, regardless of context.

Follow Johnny Magdaleno on Twitter: @johnny_mgdlno


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