“The 4,000 pound structure looks weightless as it bends and twists through the sun-filled atrium, looking like a ribbon blowing in the wind.” Julia Kaganskiy, The Creators Project
Patterned by Nature, a 90 ft.-long sculpture installed in the atrium of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Research Center, translates the abstraction of nature’s infinite complexity into ‘pixelated’ patterns
The undulating, ribbon-like sculpture comprises panels of 3,600 liquid crystal tiles that cycle through various patterns of natural phenomena, ranging from cloud formations to rainwater flow to bird migration. Suspended from the top of a four-story atrium, the 4,000 lb, 900 sq. ft. structure bends and twists its way through a sun-drenched workspace, and even plays soothing sounds that correspond to the patterns displayed (water dripping, or birds chirping, for instance).
The installation runs on a mere 75 watts of power, or about the same as a single incandescent light bulb. To make this display possible, we designed and embedded 180 LCD controller boards capable of transmitting both power and data along four steel cables holding up various sections of the sculpture. Each board controls 20 LCD tiles, and holds a unique digital ID that listens for commands from a host computer — which sends out more than 100,000 commands a second — to know what visual effects to produce.
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Patten Studio created the electronics, firmware and portions of the software. To make this display possible, we needed to design a custom LCD controller board that would allow transmission of power and packets of data along the four steel cables suspending each section of the sculpture. Each control board has a unique digital ID, listening for host computer commands dictating what patterns to draw, sending out more than 100,000 commands a second to these control boards in order to produce the visual effects seen on the sculpture.