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Illuminated Shroom
An outdoor installation by Absolute Value of Noise © 2011

The Illuminated Shroom is a large tree fungus that, like it's cousin "Poison Mentor" has become savvy about science. It is inspired by the notion of wind-clocks and alternate scales of time. It perceives the wind as a variable force that blows during the daytime and goes quiet at night. Thus each day has a different length in wind time, and each night the shroom has an opportunity to stop and reflect on the day.

The shroom is a solar powered creature that monitors and records the wind during the daytime, and at night it uses its findings to create a pattern of light, played-back on amber LEDs. Connected to the Tik or Time Inventor's Kabinet project at OKNO in Brussels, the shroom also sends it's wind data to the Internet in the form of TiKs.


The Prototype (April-May 2011)


April 2011. The prototype wind clock sitting in the studio window. At this point I'm just making sure that the solar panels provide enough power to charge the batteries and operate the wind sensor at the same time.

May 2011. The brain has been programmed and wind clock measurements can now be sent out to the Internet. The programming runs on a PIC16F88 microcontroller. The artists in Belgium have designed a server that recieves what they call "Tik"s. One Tik is approximately the amount of wind it takes to drive one swing of a pendulum style wind clock.

May 2011. The batteries charge quickly. In 3 or 4 hours they have enough juice to run the LEDs all night.


In the Studio (June 2011)


June 2011. Close-ups of the final Shroom hanging in the studio.

The brain and the LEDs.

You can see the wind sensor (the 4 little prongs) just sticking over the top of the battery.

The batteries are hidden under the lower fronds.


Studio at Twilight (June 2011)


June 2011. At Twilight the Shroom switches modes. It stops collecting wind data and starts to playback the day's wind information on the LEDs.

Strong winds during the day will cause all of the LEDs to be lit most of the time, and slow winds will trigger just one or two LEDs at a time.

The light pattern changes every two seconds.


On the Fence (June 2011)


June 2011. Hanging on the back fence. Outside, charging the batteries and measuring the wind. The fronds are made from a double layer of fine stainless-steel mesh.

Co-existing with the Wysteria.


Twilight Tea Party (June 26, 2011)

June 26, 2011. Hanging on the side of the mason bee mansion at the Twilight Tea Party. At Means of Production garden, 6th and St. Catherines in Vancouver. This was an event produced by MOPARRC and Second Site Collective. The tea party started at 8 pm (when the sun was out) and ended at 10:30 pm (after dark).

Tea goers checking out the shroom.

Illumination after dark. Playing with the wind patterns that were recorded during the day.


TiK Radio Days (September 6-11, 2011)

September 6 - 11, 2011. Six days of radio programming scheduled by wind time. This was an event produced by COL-ME (Bratislava, Slovakia). The average wind time was calculated from the wind time of several TiK clocks, and this time measure was used to schedule radio programs and streams.

As part of this event I created the "21st Century Universal Time Signal" live audio stream. This is a generative audio piece driven by the TiKs of the Illuminated Shroom. Here in Vancouver the fierce blowing of wind is often accompanied by rain. So I made a water clock and recorded the sounds of its droplets. When the wind clock Tiks, a splatter of droplets is broadcast on the 21stC-UTS. The signal then degrades over time until another TiK passes through the system. At night, when the Illuminated Shroom stops monitoring the wind, the UTS degrades further into an eerie night-time ambient soundtrack.


I made a short recording of the stream, starting about 5 minutes before twilight (when the piece shifts into night-time).


The Shroom hanging on the back of the house outside the studio window. It is gathering TiKs for the 21stC-UTS.

"I was playing the stream on a bright sunny day when I noticed a woman outside. She kept stopping and looking up and then I realized that she was trying to find the strange cascade of water droplets that she could hear once every 20 to 30 seconds emanating from my upstairs window." - August 20, 2011.

Now that the winter is approaching, the Shroom is safely stored inside, and I have replaced it with a solo wind sensor hanging out the window under the eves. This is the Shroom circuit reduced to bread-board with a photo-cell in place of the solar cells (to tell night from day).

The wind-sensor. (You can also see the stains where the rain comes in through the window frame on particularily stormy days.)


Shroomy (April 2012)

April, 2012. Making the proginy of Illuminated Shroom. I wanted to make a smaller version of the shroom - something that was less fragile and could travel in pieces to be assembled at the destination (in this case I was taking the shroom to OKNO in Brussels). I started by making a bread board version of the circuit (easier to update on the road).

Trying out the new fronds.

Shroomy (my nickname for the baby shroom) assembled.

This version of the shroom also plays the generative sound score that I made for TiK Radio Days. The sound comes out of a bamboo speaker.


OKNO TiK Festival (May 11-13, 2012)

May 11-13, 2012. The "Time Inventors' Kabinet" Festival. Many of the artists involved in the Time Inventors' Kabinet project gathered at OKNO in Brussels to show the results of their various TiK experiments. OKNO has a rooftop garden where some of the wind clocks were installed.

The shroom was placed on a wall with a small balcony high overhead to shade it from the rain.


OKNO at Night (May 11-13, 2012)

May 11-13, 2012. The "Time Inventors' Kabinet" Festival. I was able to take some nice pictures of the shroom at night. Here it is playing back wind data on a set of six LEDs. Also at night, the rain-drop soundtrack starts to change and becomes more eerie and abstract.



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