Inhale - Hold - Exhale

Ceatures, BFA Thesis
Tjaden Gallery, Cornell University

Both the positive and negative aspects of technology have resulted in a new relationship between ourselves and the world around us. Our modern world extolls the value of science and technology, but it transforms our experience in ways we don't yet fully appreciate. We no longer live in a purely natural world, but in a world composed of strange, intruiging forms brought about by technology invention. As a result, our perspective of our lives, and our own bodies, shifts from a purely nature one toward a scientific, and mechanically-biased view of the world. Inhale-Holdit-Exhale is an investigation of the body and form of technology.

Like blue whales, the large creatures of Inhale-Hole-Exhale breath with their own slow rhythmic pulse. Actively breathing in and out with two fans each, the "lungs" inflate and deflate to fill the surrounding space. This community of three gives the sense of being approached by ancient, magical, yet technological creatures. Robots need not be dynamic, active, and energetic. These robots present a calm, passive experience, by blowing wind gently on the viewer - an experience especially enjoyed by the baby of one visitor.

Sculptural Details

Each creature has two 180" fans, facing in opposite directions, allowing it to actively breath in and out. The body of the whale-robots is constructed from children's round snowsleds, painted blue, and covering the fans. The inhaling motion also triggers lightbulbs which illuminate their plastic bodies.

One especially challenging aspect of this piece was hanging the work from the ceilings. Due to a limited ceiling structure, steel cables needed to be run from the gallery walls instead. Because each creatured weighs over 100 lbs when complete, this would result in over 600 lbs pulling against the walls! Carefully made 1/4" welded metal plates and fasteners were constructed to support the weight. After testing the two cables by hanging weights, and then ourselves from them, we cautiously suspended the creatures one by one.

Control System

With the exception of the power supply the entire electrical system, including the computer, hard drive and relays, fits on an area about the size of a sheet of paper. Tthis is a good example of how simple (and cheap) a high-powered robot control system can be. The computer is an 80486, mini-board used to control building elevators.

Whales were an inspiration for the behavior of the piece, although many people say they were reminded of mosquitoes and other insects. The three creatures gradually breath in and out of phase over time. Each creature breaths in for a period of time by activating its inhale fan, and then holds in that air until exhaling it.