In an effort to document and publicize the various efforts that went into bringing our project Murmur Wall to life we are starting a series of "how to" blog posts, explaining aspects of Murmur Wall's design and making with an FAQ style resource. Today we are beginning with the "data pods."
FAQ (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
1. What is a Murmur Wall data pod?
We conceived the Murmur Wall as a physicalization of the flow of data, in which the acrylic tubes represent data coursing through the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) plaza. The data pods are points where this data is untwined, decoded, and made legible in text. Local web searches are highlighted in magenta while "whispers", text sent directly to the wall through murmurwall.net, streak through in cyan.
2. How were they made?
Each data pod is made of 3D printed panels, held together by a laser cut acrylic frame, and bristling with acrylic rods. Each pod took roughly 250 hours to print, requiring over 1,500 hours of printing spread across numerous printers to finish, with additional manual effort for cleaning, gluing, and assembly.
3. Why 3D printing?
We wished to exploit 3D printing’s capacity to create a durable, variable panel that expressed the geometric complexity we were trying to achieve while also transmitting light through its surface. This intricate, fibrous, luminous design would have been impossible to fabricate without 3D printing.
4. How do the data pods work?
Embedded within the data pods are waterproof enclosures which protect the text displaying LED matrices. These matrices receive search and whisper data from a server inside the YBCA building.
5. How were the data pods designed?
We designed the data pods in Grasshopper, a modeling software which allowed us to generate innumerable iterations of the pods by tweaking specific base parameters. The animation below illustrates different widths, thicknesses, and other variables we tweaked to create the final pod panels.
In the end, each Murmur Wall data pod is a complex, durable, and intelligent sculpture. They are the culmination of months of iterating, cutting-edge fabrication prototyping, and lots of good old-fashioned elbow grease. You can enjoy them in the Murmur Wall at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts entry plaza in San Francisco, now through the end of 2016!
Future Cities Lab