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Guy Marsden

Artwork Engineering

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Seyed Alavi
"Ode to Rumi - Drawn by light"
at the San Bernardino Valley College Gallery
October, 2000

Seyed asked me to program the 144 light bulbs in this completely darkened
room to light up in rapid sweeping arcs and circles of light, while occasionally
stopping to twinkle random lights all over the space.

There were 2 ways that people chose to experience this piece -- either by sitting
against the wall, or by lying flay on their back in the center.  The effect was hypnotic
and dizzying!  Dare I say - electrifying!  Just as you get used to lights sweeping
around you, the room suddenly explodes as lights flash at random all over the room!

I designed a control system that uses a PIC16F876 microcontroller chip to switch the lamps.
After Seyed provided me with a floor plan map of the lamp locations, I mapped the lamps
onto a 12 X 12 grid and assigned row and column numbers to each lamp.
By addressing each lamp in this manner I could reduce the number of control relays
needed from 144 to 24.  I then worked from lists of lamps that Seyed gave me that
defined the path of the light's movements for numerous animations.  I programmed the
microcontroller to light each lamp in sequence for about 1/100th of a second to create the rapidly
moving activity that he desired.  Below is the inside view of the control box that was
mounted in the center of the ceiling.  The computer board is at the top left:

I was able to re-program the piece on-site from the top of a ladder using a laptop:

See more of Seyed's Work on his web site

email Seyed Alavi

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