KINGSTON, RI – Engineering can bring wonders, new ideas, unique devices, and even creative designs that carry someone’s thoughts through time and space. This is happening at the University of Rhode Island.
At URI’s Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, a $ 540,000 work of art takes shape with much light and even more imagination.
“The artwork, which will run most of the length of a hallway, is intended to evoke the feel of a jet flying at transonic speeds,” said Neil Nachbar, spokesperson from URI College of Engineering.
“Because the whole room is glass, it will appear very differently day and night when 2,000 LEDs are shining on it,” Nachbar explained.
Called “Light Pressure and Droplets,” said Jen Figg, creator, along with Matthew McCormack, both selected from 262 applicants vying for the chance in 2017 to undertake this ongoing project.
“The glass for this was created in the summer of 2019 after a year and a half of planning,” she recalled.
“More work was done to create all of the different pieces of this 25,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, but everything had to be put in storage because of the pandemic. Over 3.5 years later, we’re finally here, realizing the vision, ”Figg said of the project.
Raymond M. Wright, URI’s dean of engineering, said: “We were all amazed by the presentation of Jen and Matt when they proposed, along with many internationally renowned artists, these works in glass. “
“The committee was impressed with the original idea of forming and lighting glass in organic forms that artistically recall that engineering is creative,” he added.
Where it starts
Ideas, energy and space were the main creative elements to consider, she said. “We were excited to hear more about the engineering work here at URI, the shared vision for the future of engineering research in Rhode Island and how the new facility came about after years. planning. “
These influencing ideas led to drawing and sketching designs, presenting reflections, talking about what was deepest in the engineering, the geography of the site and the building itself, she said. declared.
“We are interested in energy as a conceptual force in contemporary cultural narrative, exploring our use and creation of energy to understand contemporary landscape and ecology,” she said.
Figg added: “In the context of climate change, energy is a loaded topic. We explore its transformation from one form to another through our work, which complicates the interconnections between ecology, science and industry.
From these ideas arose “Light Pressure” in the south corridor gallery and “Droplet 1, 2 and 3” in the second floor lounges, the west and east wings and the Bliss Hall.
Their designs get a little complicated, but that’s what engineering is all about. He takes the complicated and makes it possible.
“Light Pressure” is a visual narrative that combines mechanical, electrical and optical phenomena, specifically blending pressure and fluid dynamics with the visualization of collimated light and force fields, ”explained Figg.
Even in more detail – which engineering brings to elements large and small – she noted that in a left-to-right movement “a large gesture of a flattened vortex gives way to a linear flow of light surrounded by curved glass and of flat sheets, referring to both magnetic fields and turbine blades.
“In this way, the work builds on the lasers and electron beams used in the synthesis of spiky hydrophobic nanostructures, while evoking that sensation of a jet flying at transonic speeds,” she said. .
In simpler terms, she said that “Light Pressure” is created with individually hanging glass rods in two main forms, including straight rods and a curved rod. The rhythmic layers of glass create varying areas of density and rarity to form an energetic, gently curved beam while the lens-shaped ends catch and bend the light.
On the other hand, “Droplet 1, 2 & 3” offers a different presentation.
“This work is made of both molded blown glass and cast glass. The general shape is a compressed sphere, to maximize the double height of the ceiling in the living rooms. The center of the sphere is made of lens-blown diamond shapes in a mold, while the outermost rings are made of cast glass trusses, ”she said.
It uses custom molds using 3D printing and traditional processes. In this hybrid process, form and techniques relate to material engineering of nanostructures, where traditional lattice structures are used in increasingly complex ways.
The visible texture of the glass can provide an eye-catching glimpse of its molding with this surface improving the refraction of light. In other words, during the day, the glass is translucent and captures light, while at night, the sculpture comes to life “with dynamic light inspired by quantum entanglement and the spin of electrons,” a-t she declared.
Tap into art
She drew on the artistic element that is so much a part of it.
“Each piece of glass being its own luminous node, the molded trusses will appear to revolve around the core of diamond lanterns. We imagine that the two sculptures in the living room and the Bliss Hall sculpture are linked together by the void of space, the multi-wire lighting program creating a visual dialogue between the three spaces, ”she said.
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, URI College of Engineering and Capital Projects assisted with the project and provided support; an installation team of URI alumni and current students, she said.
“These sculptures have been in development for so many years that they have changed us as thinkers and creators. We have broadened our reach and the challenge of making the intricate shapes is exhilarating, ”said Figg.
“It takes our work to new levels. This particular project demonstrates how much thought, planning, design, manufacturing and engineering go into our work, and this effort is recognized, ”she added.