Light As A Medium - Synesthesia Project - Ghost Fern V1

Conceptually, this project is an attempt, through sculpture and light, to represent the sensation of smelling a wild grove of ferns warmed by sunlight. Out of this prompt, I developed an interest in working with fog as diffusion, and specifically the idea of shaping it in some way and then using light to make it appear tangible.

In this iteration, I imagined I would do this by creating an abstract form of a fern using clear acrylic which would ideally appear nearly invisible on its own. Then I would fill the shape with fog and project onto that fog an abstract, moving image of foliage to then make that fern shape appear. While the acrylic shape is sharp and geometric, my hope was by bringing in these unpredictable, flowing components of fog and moving image I could create an organic-looking piece.

ultrasonic vapor was WAY to messy and finicky.

ultrasonic vapor was WAY to messy and finicky.

working e-cig fog machine.

working e-cig fog machine.

As I began looking into the possible ways of creating fog, I quickly learned that there was not really an option that was both the correct, small size and also a reasonable price. So naturally, I decided to build my own. Some makers in the cosplay community have found a way to turn components of an e-cigarette and a fish tank aerator into a mini fog maker, and I successfully adapted this tutorial to build my own DC powered version.

The next step was to figure out how exactly to make the acrylic shape which would fill with fog. I started with hand-drawn sketches and did multiple 3D mockups out of paper and cardboard. These experimentations helped me to refine the shape to both hold the fog as well as be reminiscent of the fern plant. Ultimately, in order to best visualize my design as well as eventually export it for fabrication, I took these mock-ups and turned them into a model in Vectorworks. From there I was able to export each face as a two-dimensional shape which made it very easy to laser cut them out of the clear acrylic.

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 9.55.14 AM.png
Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 11.00.49 AM.png

Unfortunately, I had not fully considered how I would attach these acrylic pieces together. I was hoping they would come together in seamless, invisible joints, but in order to get them to securely connect, I had to use large, unsightly globs of glue. This is one aspect of this project I intend to improve upon when I continue working on this concept.

Another aspect to consider more closely is the flow of fog within the sculpture. Once I tested the fog inside of the final piece I realized that by enclosing it as much as I did, the fog did now fill every corner and ended up not having the exact effect I had hoped. That being said, the way in which it “solidified” when lit by the projector I found to be very effective and made me optimistic about the next, tweaked version of this idea.