Timewave « Rama Hoetzlein



Rama Hoetzlein, Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California Santa Barbara

Kimberly Iarossi, Department of Fine Arts, University of California Santa Barbara

“There is one marine production which, from its importance, is worthy of a particular history. It is the kelp, or Macrocystis pyrifera. This plant grows on every rock from low-water mark to a great depth, both on the outer coast and within the channels. I believe, during the voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, not one rock near the surface was discovered which was not buoyed by this floating weed.” – Charles Darwin

Contained in a clear cylinder of water, a single kelp plant is suspended. The ocean algae kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, is the most abundant plant on the planet. Timewave allows visitors to poetically examine the plant in detail. As participants slide an aluminum ring up and down, a cross section of the plant is projected on the wall. Floating algae and other debris shift smoothly in and out of focus as the ring is moved. Timewave expresses our fascination with basic science through direct experience on a exaggerated scale.

Timewave consists of a central device containing the plant Macrocystis pyrifera housed in 4″ diameter acrylic tube. A moveable aluminum ring slides freely inside rolled steel cylinders. Brass rods suspended in the space provide a counterweight to allow smooth motion of the ring. A projected image shows the cross-section of the plant and, as the ring is moved, the cross section changes dynamically.

Cables along the ceiling connect the aluminum ring to the brass counterweights. As the ring is moved, these wires also move. Mounted in the ceiling and connected to these wires is an ordinary computer mouse. As the wire moves it causes the computer mouse wheel to turn and register motion. Internally, this allows a computer to know the exact position of the ring.

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