One of China’s foremost digital artists, Aaajiao’s work integrates architecture, art installations, and music. His 2010 project Cloud.data was actualized by using equations to imitate clouds in nature. He calculated a cloud’s characteristics, drew each individual grain, mapped out a pattern, and blended everything together to create a moving digital landscape. The result is pretty exceptional.
He even took the project an extra step further and created an iPhone/iPad app that lets a user manipulate the structure and pace of the cloud patterns. But for those who don’t have the kind of conceptual programming skills Aaajiao uses to create his works and prefer working with electronics and your own hands, then this Instructables How-To will help you create your own personal sky installation.
In comparison with Cloud.data, the difficulty level of this project is simpler in theory (and as different as night and day), but the Instructables author recommends having basic woodworking skills, experience using a soldering iron, ability to design LED-based circuits, and knowledge of how to safely deal with AC voltages. We’ll highlight some of the steps below.
The most important materials are the 1500-2000 optical fibers and 108 LEDs that make up the stars and power this project. The author encourages taking apart a fake Christmas tree for optical fibers, and strongly advocates using LED lights because they use less power and last longer than halogen bulbs. The other main components utilized are a frame, substrate (dark “sky” that the fibers will poke through), backing (cloth that will prevent light from leaking out the back), a power supply, and control circuitry. Then comes the fun part.
Download Celestia, a free planetarium software, to choose the nebula of your choice. Remember your materials will dictate the size and brightness of your galaxy. You could also get creative and use scenes from your favorite science fiction movie, NASA’s image of “Earth at Night,” or the zodiac of your choice.
The next few steps focus on building the inner and outer frames, attaching the substrate, using PosteRazor to scale and print your map, and attaching it to the frame. Don’t forget to mirror the image, so your constellations don’t appear backwards.
You’ll then need to mount your terminator and light source, and start pulling your fibers through the substrate with pliers (the author stresses this will take a long time). Halfway though placing your fibers, add the secondary LED lights (for the brighter constellation stars) before finishing with the fibers. The map will look like this from the back before stringing through the fibers.
The last few steps have you trim the fibers, wire your map so it can turn on and off, and screw the frames together. Then you’re ready to hang your Aaajiao-inspired map in a prominent place.
Visit the Instructables How-To for further instruction, more detailed photographs, and tips on where to buy materials.