Laser, Water, and Vibrations: Gallery Installation.

What's going on? The solid red line shows the path of the laser beam as it leaves the laser and bounces off water contained in the small, white funnel.  After bouncing off the water, the beam hits an auto inspection mirror, changes direction, hits another mirror, again bounces off and heads toward the target placed on the wall about two feet away. The water apparently "collects and magnifies" vibrations producing various standing wave patterns in the funnel. This pattern causes the beam to trace patterns ranging from simple ups and downs to figure eights on the target. The device is very sensitive to building vibration but not to sound--shouting produces no pattern on the target. 

The dotted green lines represents the path of the beam from the laser on the left that is not bouncing off any water. This laser simply bounces off two mirrors on its way to the target. This beam remains relatively stable indicating that it is not just the shaking of the laser itself that is making the patterns on the target, the water is critical. It functions much like a built in control group.

Even thought the floor of the gallery was thick concrete, it was nearly impossible to walk past the laser set-up without causing a vibration on the target. In fact, only one person was able to do so and then only after a fair amount of practice--he was the gallery attendant who did it by shuffling past with long strides in stocking feet. The device can be made even more sensitive: the mirrors can be changed to redirect the beams to fall on a surfaces up to 100 feet away. Doing so causes the small vibrations to be magnified even further.

On the base of the piece is a stream of consciousness narrative that outlines my thinking, research, and actions while making this piece. It gained nearly as much attention as the lasers themselves. Click here to read it.

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