Simple Parts

Submitted by Joshua Vermillion

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Client: University of Calgary Faculty of Environmental Design

Location: Calgary, AB, Canada

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $2,000

Project Team

Artist

Joshua Vermillion

UNLV School of Architecture

Other

Jason S Johnson

University of Calgary

Other

Mehrdad Amjadi

University of Calgary

Other

Michael Chu

Other

Nic Dykstra

Other

Meysam Ehsanian

Other

Daniel Farid

Other

Alyssa Haas

Other

Kendra Kusick

Other

Joanna Long-Tieu

Other

Matt Marrotto

Other

Jamie Lynne McFadyen

Other

MacKenzie Nixon

Other

Obinna Martins

Other

Shane Oleksiuk

Other

Sadaf Rabbani

Other

Matt Stewart

Other

Sabrina Vastag

Overview

Self-organizing and self-assembling systems are trending topics in design, notable for their capacity to use simple parts and interactions to generate complex organizations. This project is an architectural installation for experimenting with such systems. We developed a suspended cloud of acrylic components that snap together magnetically. As the “simple parts” attract and attach in clusters, simple looping electric circuits are closed, triggering glowing LEDs. Thus, the phenomenon of small parts organizing into clusters is rendered with light in real time. The project was installed for the client at the Kasian Gallery on the campus of the University of Calgary.

Goals

The project was completed with the help from University of Calgary students, and the focus of this exercise was to demonstrate the importance of integration--spatial design, multi-discipinary teams, electronics and interactions, fabrication and prototyping, etc--with delivering a well-crafted installation within an existing gallery space. We coordinated all of this with the following framework: 1) Creating fabrication and material studies to define basic components.
2) Investigating relational interactions and systemic disturbances while prototyping with simple electrical and magnetic components.
3) Generating organization from disorder through repetition.
4) Examining scalar relationships between parts and aggregations, and between local and global behaviors.

Process

This project was a true test of collaborative design as it was completed in only four days by myself and a group of university students. The process involved a lot of design and prototyping in small groups, collective meetings for feedback and critique, and coordination of many tasks and skill sets--all in a very short amount of time.