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    Lighting design project taken on in the summer of 2015.
    Published:
This is COSMO.
(And me, fourth from the right.)
COSMO, by Andrés Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation, served as the architectural landscape for MoMA PS1's 2015 Warm Up summer concert series.
 
This structure of irrigation hoses and aquatic ecosystems purifies water by biological means, intended to spark dialogue about access to clean drinking water and prototype sustainable solutions to this global issue. But above all, COSMO is meant to be a mobile "party-artifact."
 
Selected by Jaque and Jocelyn Froimovich, our team of seven NYU students designed the lighting to bring this ecological architecture to life.
Our Challenge: Design dynamic and structurally-integrated lighting for COSMO, giving the installation energy while highlighting its architectural and organic attributes. Within the budget constraint of $250...
Approach 1: Illuminate and animate the installation's eight water tanks with audio-reactive LED stage lights. The lights rest on top of wooden supports underneath the tanks, hidden and protected from rain yet easily accessible.
Approach 2: Incorporate two 8000 lumen projectors and Mac Minis (on loan from NYU) into the bases of the structure, weather-proofed to survive the three month installation, suspended to fix their positioning within the mobile piece, and dressed to match COSMO's space-age aesthetic. With visual content we designed specifically for reflection from convex mirrors, these projection systems illuminate the entire structure and set its diverse components in motion.
Major Obstacle 1: Weather-proofing the projection equipment and integrating it into COSMO. The projectors and computers must be protected from rain, humidity, and dust while also prevented from over-heating and left accessible for maintenance.
Housing and Structural Integration:
 
To begin, we constructed boxes of particle board and plastic to house each combination of projector, mount, computer, and power strip. As illustrated below, each housing is suspended at an angle within one of the structure's pyramidal supports. The boxes are sealed with caulk and further water-proofed with mylar and aluminum tape to match COSMO's self-described disco ball visual texture.
Here is one of the projector mounts within the particle board portion of its housing.
The housing is suspended using aircraft cable run through the cheeseborough clamps of a projector mount, with turnbuckles allowing for adjustment of angle.
These are the corrugated plastic panels that fold to form the bottom and front of each projector housing. Holes are cut in the bottom for ventilation and lined with orange rings to match the rest of the structure.
A small flap folds down in the back to provide access to the power buttons of each projector, Mac Mini, and power strip. Once turned on, the computers were controlled via screen sharing to play the uploaded video content on the projectors.
Holes in the front of the projector boxes are covered by clear plastic and sealed with aluminum tape.
Major Obstacle 2: Since the projectors must be integrated into COSMO, the structure's size doesn't allow it to be covered by traditionally projected content. Even when angled diagonally across the installation, the projected image does not have enough space to reach a size suitable to cover COSMO's canopy and tubing.
Projection Reflection:
 
To overcome the issue of image size, we suspended a convex mirror in front of each projector to diffuse its image over a wider area. Content is reflected such that each projector illuminates the side of the structure on which it is hung.
These convex mirrors solve the image size problem, however their success in diffusing the image is also a drawback in reduction of clarity. We found that sharp contrasts, clear patterns, and bold colors created the most powerful visual effects, thus we specifically tailored our projection content for this context. Below, is a geometric animation incorporated into the final visual composition.
And here is that same animation projected across COSMO. The image may be distorted by the curved mirror and uneven projection surface, however its pattern of motion is immediately apparent. The soft edges and darting lights give the looped projected content an organic feel that hopefully makes COSMO come alive.
Because we all know he wants to be the life of the party...