How to Create Breathing Movement on a Wall? Creative Process of Mechanical Flowers (Part 2/2)

Updated: Oct 17

Phase Three (II): Creating Life

Mechanism Design: Balancing between Science and Aesthetics

Once the style of flowers was confirmed, we started detailed mechanism design. We took not only texture and appearances of metal but also smooth movement of flowers into consideration. It was a great challenge. To further extend the concept of “eternal life”, we made internal mechanism rotate in single direction (i.e., flowers opened and closed following the same direction), and not commonly seen forward reversing rotation (i.e., flowers opened and closed in opposite directions). Therefore, special metal components were added to the structure to be in accordance with main concept, yet difficulties in execution and later movement control were also increased.

As for metal pieces, we designed holes that produce dynamic visuals, and patterns that mimic Nanhu Rhododendrons. And to juggle and balance kinetic aesthetics and flower texture, again and again in this period of time, we researched various surface processing techniques and materials, and tested different processing techniques according to different parts of Heaven Bloom, in order to enhance its quality and delicacy. Finally, after several times of sampling and testing, the unique, one and only style of Heaven Bloom was made.

Hairline Finish Improved Texture of Petals
Kinetic Design: Creating Rules for Life

Another notable thing about flowers was their collective living kinetic energy. Through programming we controlled the opening and closing to be as soft as breezes passing by, just like how they thrived in nature. Surrounded by natural light and interior light sources, collective kinetic flowers accentuated great life forces, as well as powerful visual sensations.

Reviewed and Revised Flower Kinetic Movements in Real Time at Installation Site

Used Processing, an Open-source Software to Program Control System

As for control system, we used “real-time dynamical simulation system” to simulate kinetic movements of mechanical flowers.

The system provided not only the convenience to quickly review and revise kinetic design with remote control, but also rendered possibility for life to self-create. We set default rules to flower bushes through programming, and allowed them to present features (shapes and forms) at the moment according to the rules. Background ambient music was co-created by two new generation musicians: Ami Tseng and Tzu Chuan Hsu. They composed different feelings based on different hours of a day: the morning, the noon, the sunset, and the night. And they captured seasonal sounds from Taiwan natural species to present atmosphere of a real space. The kinetic design revealed changes of hours in a day with different elements:

Gently Spreading out from a Spot—Awakening Morning Composed of Fast-moving Lines—Hustling Noon Changing like a Blowing Breeze—Serene Sunset Glow Slowly Revolving into Stillness—Resting Night

The movements and sounds of flowers functioned in the same rules, along with random control mechanism—at times flowers bloomed from the top, and for the next time they might bloom from the bottom. Every performance was not exactly the same. After performing, flowers would be at rest on the wall, just like sculptures. In addition, the rules of flower kinetic design were set into four algorithms, like the four seasons.

Unique performances were shown every hour, along with seasonal one-of-a-kind elements. When the style of horizontal lines in autumn changed to geometric shapes of snowflakes in winter, residents would quietly find out changing of seasons through dynamical changes of flowers. It corresponded to the concept “return to nature” of architecture team, and created a unique experience of time through unintentional exquisite changes.

Spring: Organic, blooming everywhere/(C//spreading)

Summer: Waves

Autumn: Harvest, gathering

Winter: Crystals, regularity

Phase Four: Sowing Seeds

After ensuring style of flowers, tests of motor power, and quality of mechanisms to function smoothly, Heaven Bloom was finally in the process of mass producing and assembly.

Every single flower mechanism went through repeated meticulous manual adjustments and tests, so that the quality of each mechanical flowers was fine tuned to be consistent, avoiding later unevenness caused by minor problems after mass installation, and at the same time to ensure overall visual effect when it was in kinetic motion.

The installation involved power arrangements. Thorough plans were necessary when it came to distribution of wires and power supply hidden behind the wall. In order to perfectly integrate flowers and the wall, early in the planning stage we cut holes precisely on the marble wall to place wires and motors, so that mechanisms could be nicely hidden behind, and finally presented the picture of flowers becoming one with the wall.

Phase Five: Blooming

Heaven Bloom was a project that we could freely express in designs of mechanisms and outer appearances, and also one of a few installation artworks that can be executed in such a complete manner. During these two years, a process going from initial proposal to later installation, the total trust given by our client along with the effort of WHYIXD team members are the most important reasons why Heaven Bloom resulted in such a great success.

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