If art is in the eye of the beholder, then here is what happens when the beholders are creating the art. In the hills near Cambridge, Ontario, Gorbet Design Inc. (made up of Matt, Rob, and Susan LK Gorbet) has created Solar Collector.
Just the online description itself gets my little new-media-modern-artist’s heart a-thumping:
In a collaboration between the community and the sun, Solar Collector gathers human expression and solar energy during the day, then brings them together each night in a performance of flowing light.
How awesome does THAT sound? Integrating the cycles of it’s natural environment into an interaction-based work of outdoor art, similar to Jiyeon Song’s beautiful “One Day Poem Pavilion”, almost every aspect of Solar Collector’s design took a completely holistic and thought-out approach to it’s natural surroundings. Despite the high-tech aspect of its workings, there is a subtle, organic reasoning behind almost every element of the piece.
The 12 aluminum shafts are held at separate angles in the hillside. Each shaft has three LED lights and three solar collectors, gathering the sun’s energy to power their noctural illumination. The angles of the shaft represent the sun’s position throughout the year: the tallest shaft faces the sun’s location at winter solstice, and the lowest shaft faces does the same for summer solstice. If you’re a techie kinda person, you can check out all the detailed specs here.
During the day, while sunlight charges the batteries within each shaft, people go online and create their own patterns and send them electronically to solar collector. At sunset, Solar Collector comes to life and creates it’s display not just from the energy of light but from the creative energy of human beings. As the solar power in the batteries diminishes during the night, the light from each shaft slowly fades away and darkens until they’re energized by the sun again the next morning. It’s as natural and universal a cycle as breathing.
There’s also a kind of delightful shock to the location of Solar Collector. For those of you who don’t live in Southern Ontario, Cambridge isn’t exactly the first place you’d expect to find an interactive outdoor light sculpture. In fact, it may be one of the last. The randomness of its locale adds to it’s overall coolness.