In collaboration with Yuhan Zhang, we set out to design, build and present an interactive light installation relating to natural forms to showcase in the 2016 ITP Winter show. Obscura came out of months of detours, experimentation, and exhaustive research in the best materials and approaches to use. The result was a interactive light installation that invited up to three participants to collaboratively control an abstract wall projection.  


We began with an interest in ferrofluid, a magnetically charged liquid made up of small iron filings and oil. Using small neodymium magnets and servo motors, we created a mechanism that attracted the ferrofluid and produced ripples in a container of water. In this first detour, we envisioned projecting light through the user-activated ripple patterns. 


In the final iteration of obscure, we optimized this effect with a much simpler system that reflected light from adhesive mylar paper onto a wall opposite the user. The projection was a javascript visualization of the user input represented as three animated sine waves. Each user had three analog dials that controlled the sine waves (which in turn altered the wall projection). The user inputs simultaneously altered the brightness and color of three LED strips built into the body of obscure. In addition to collaboratively creating this projected visual, Obscura created areas of additive color blending as the three LED colors diffused together. In a dark room this continuous blending was a great study in color relationships.