GLOW 2020: Cage of Thoughts

Every year Fontys Engineering gives the students an opportunity, within the BeCreative Minor, to do a project for GLOW. This light festival is well known for: its variety and different forms of light art, their walking route, accessibility and it’s free of charge entry. GLOW is one of the few light festivals that combines technology and art.

The theme of GLOW 2020 is ‘Urban Skin’. This device has to represent Eindhoven as well as the theme ‘Urban Skin’. Cage of Thoughts is a large metal brain that consists of a 3D wire frame within and a light diffusing plastic as it’s ‘skin’.

Cage of Thoughts is a large metal brain (Approximately 3 meters in height).

Project description

When speaking about the mechanical design and construction aspects, the team needed to take into consideration the following areas of focus:

  • The project must be weather resistant to a certain degree, this is due to the project being placed outdoors.
  • The construction is required to withstand a load factor, similar to the forces that will act against its surface. Forces such as, wind resistance or an external force caused by pushing or pulling of the design.
  • Link the theme and city to the physical design.
  • The physical aspect of the device needs to have a good half-life, thus being able to be used for 3 – 4 years of operation.
  • The physical design needs to be working in correlation with the electronics and programmed performance. Thus, showing the thoughts and design decisions made to create one cohesive device.
  • The project also requires the final art installation to be capable of making use out of a maximum of three effects. Two effect must include, they are light and sound, where the third can depend on the final design of the project.
Prototype of the stem for Cage of Thoughts (In the lab at Fontys Engineering).

After a significant amount of brainstorming, the team selected the Cage of Thoughts concept. Then the prototyping phase started. We designed and created many different modules and parts, where the different disciplines of the team members were really needed.

Mechanical design: main frame, sub frame, stem, base, selection of materials (for the frames and hexagons).

Electrical design: control electronics, power supplies, lamps and LED-strips, selection of processors and other hardware.

Software design: ArtNet/DMX light control, wireless connectivity, LED-strip control.

Project results

The conclusion of the project is that everything has been designed. The whole frame, the stem, the lights and the light diffusing plastic. There are 2 prototypes to give the sponsors a clear look into what the final physical artwork will be like. Prototype 1 consists of a small part of the frame with the hexagons to get a better look of how the outer side of the design will look like. Prototype 2 is the stem with about one-third the amount of light equipment proposed for the final design.


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