Metal Life

A series of interactive installations 

Shy

Curious

Clever

Naughty

Project Info  6-member Team Project @ Information Art & Design Research Group

My Roles   Researcher and device developer 

Date   Apr-Oct, 2016

 

Background

That was an experimental art installation work. I worked with professor Haipeng Mi to conduct research on liquid metal and designed a series of interactive installations, in which liquid metal mollusks were raised. When interacting with the audience, they present personalities and give the audience some thoughts as to what life actually is

The work was exhibited at the Linz Ars Electronic Festival and the Tsinghua Art Museum.

Linz Ars Electronic Festival 2016

Tsinghua Art Museum


Properties of Liquid Metal

With the help of School of Medicine and Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, we conducted research on GaIn25, a kind of room temperature liquid metal, and found its two features.

Feature 2 - Locomotion

The electric field can affect the oxidation of liquid metal in NaOH solution, which converts the surface tension.The change of surface tension makes the droplet to transform and flow towards the cathode. 

Feature 1 - Reversible Transformation

Under stimulation of electrode, a GaIn 25 droplet can transform from a sphere to a large thin film in electrolyte solution (e.g. NaOH solution). And the variation of surface can be up to 5 times

 
 

Brainstorming

Based on research, we wrote down all the insights on sticky notes and whiteboard to explore the possible interaction ways that liquid metal could offer. Insights were organized and grouped by their relationships, after which we selected the most promising ideas to develop.

 
 
 

Ideation

Personalities

 

Shy

They roam around only when they feel safe. Whenever people move closer, they would go back to their nests quickly. 

Curious

They show great interests in people, giving rapturous greetings whenever anyone approaches.

 
 

Clever

They are understanding and able to follow instructions smoothly and can interact with people.

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Naughty

They love playing hide and seek. People can poke their figures into the nest to find them.

 
 

Interaction Diagram

 

Design Realization Process

 

Cabinet Design & Building

I worked with a Masters student, Liyuan Peng, to design the cabinets by 3D max, which included the detailed size, function, and assembling order. However, we forgot to design the holes which would have allow wires to pass through. In the end we used drilling machine to punch the holes carefully, trying our best to ensure that all the holes were of the same size. 

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 Arduino Programming

I contributed a lot to connection and debugging, while the programming process was mainly finished by a computer-major student, Qianrui Xie. This was my first taste of Arduino, which I found amazing, although I spent a lot of time dealing with the instability caused by the leak of NaOH solution.

 

Filming & Editing

I was the model in the video, which was filmed in a professional studio in two days. Driven by my pursuit of perfection, we adjusted luminance and distribution of reflectors again and again. We even retook a single scene for 10 times to accord with the rhythm. It was a really impressive experience and I loved being in the spotlight! 

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Outcome

Shy

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Curious

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Clever

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Naughty