• Photograph of Thermocline installed at the Wexner Center for the Arts as part of the Mood River exhibition.

  • Photograph of Thermocline installed at the Wexner Center for the Arts as part of the Mood River exhibition.

  • Photograph of Thermocline installed at the Centre Pompidou in Paris for the exhibition Non-Standard Architectures (exhibited with the projects Lobbi-Ports, Lattice Archipelogics, and In the Lattice).

  • Photograph of Thermocline installed at the Wexner Center for the Arts as part of the Mood River exhibition.

  • Axonometric of acrylic unit with distribution of sound and lighting technology. Thermocline incorporates a network of LED lighting fixtures and micro-sonic speakers to generate responsive lighting and sound patterns. The corrugation pattern on the lower surface of the vacuum-formed acrylic shell works as an artificial irrigation system, allowing for these infrastructures to be distributed in multiple ways.

Thermocline

2002-03

Prototype Design

servo in collaboration with Perry Hall (2002) and the MIT Media Lab (2003)

Multi-media furniture prototype commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts for the exhibition Mood River organized by Jeffrey Kipnis and Annetta Massie in 2002.

The project’s responsive system was upgraded in 2003 for the exhibition Non-Standard Architectures curated by Frederic Migayrou at the Centre Pompidou.

Project Description

Integrating digital design, fabrication, lighting, and sound technologies, Thermocline upgrades the infrastructure of a conventional furniture unit, transforming its primarily tactile interface of surface-to-body into a multi-sensory user atmosphere.  Responsive not only to physical but virtual forms of use, the vacuum-formed corrugated acrylic shells allow for multiple ergonomic positions while simultaneously providing a vessel for the distribution of sound and light.  The interface between the user and object activates various material and sensorial scales, providing for synesthetic effects using sight, sound, and touch in the formation of incorporeal experience.

The physical architecture of Thermocline is a three-dimensional surface comprised of four thermo-formed acrylic cells. Each cell’s surface was corrugated to provide structural support for a variety of sitting and resting conditions.  These corrugation patterns vary in density and organization, often times exceeding their structural capacity so as to provide for the distribution of the system’s virtual infrastructure on its lower surface.  A variable irrigation network, the LED lighting array and audio speaker network are embedded into these corrugation channels and can be distributed in a variety of patterns and densities.

In 2003 Thermocline was upgraded for the exhibition Non-Standard Architectures curated by Frederic Migayrou at the Centre Pompidou.  Working in collaboration with two doctoral researchers from MIT’s Media Lab, Thermocline was redeveloped to incorporate interactive technologies, including a network of motion and sound sensors with a custom software interface. The Emonic Environment, Thermocline’s virtual architecture, is an artificial neural network of sound, lighting and computing systems.  An array of sound sensors distributed throughout the gallery collect residual conversation as well as a variety of other ambient spatial sounds.  This sonic material is then distributed to a central computer to be processed by custom software. This software relies on algorithms to transform the incoming sonic information into sets of new sound patterns which are then distributed into Thermocline’s speaker network, ultimately triggering its LED lighting array as well.  The result is a dynamic feedback loop between Thermocline and the space of the gallery itself, each informing one another as material information is passed back and forth.

Project Credits

servo in collaboration with Perry Hall (2002) and the MIT Media Lab (2003)

Prototype Design

servo

David Erdman, Marcelyn Gow, Ulrika Karlsson, Chris Perry

Design Team: Anne Barakat, Rafael Cardenas, Leonore Daum, Jeff McKibbin, Julianna Morais

Additional Renderings: Aaron White

Sound Design (2002)

Perry Hall

 

Responsive Lighting and Sound Design (2003)

MIT Media Lab

Winslow Burleson, Paul Nemirovsky

Design Team: Assaf Biderman, Rebecca Luger-Guillaume, Michael Lew

Fabrication Consultants

Kintz Plastics

Lighting Consultants

Norlux Corporation, RSL Lighting, Inc.

Special Thanks

Jeffrey Kipnis and Annetta Massie (The Wexner Center for the Arts), Centre Pompidou, the Council for the Arts at MIT, Robert Morais, Gio Tomasi, Steve Vornsand, Dan Walczyk