lou

lou is a kinetic sculpture somewhat related to a mobile. he is named after lou harrison. lou (the sculpture) produces feedback through a network of steel wires which freely extend from his segments. there are two piezo discs driving this feedback. lou is held together almost entirely by his own weight, through a system of steel wires and flat washers which keep him suspended and in balance. the reason for this delicate design was to make him more relevant (along with the Calder tie-in) to the themes of the Mechanisms course, such as minimum constraint design. the application for his design is so that all his moving parts are free to vibrate in many different ways, producing many different resonant modes, and so that he is very sensitive to his environment.

lou consists of a single steel wire "spine" from which seven basswood strips extend. the top six strips bear very little weight, with only two wire "whiskers" sticking out from either side. these whiskers act as possible pathways for mechanical vibration. slight changes in the environment cause different mechanical connections to form between parts of the sculpture. additionally, these whiskers restrict the motion of the individual basswood strips in an organic looking way; each strip affects every strip below it.

the seventh (bottom) tier supports the driver circuit and two piezo discs. these are contained in a box without a top which hangs in balance from the bottom strip. the only motion that is restricted is downward; the box is free to spin and wobble, supported only by its weight. piezo discs are small devices which translate mechanical vibration into electricity and vice-versa. the top piezo disc acts as a 'contact microphone', listening for mechanical vibrations in the structure, while the bottom piezo disc acts as a 'transducer', causing the structure to vibrate. the top piezo is held in place by the weight of its own driver circuit, pinned between the washer and the seventh strip. additionally, four steel wires with weights on their ends hang down from this joint, also held in place by the weight of the driver circuit box. the bottom piezo hangs freely from the box by its own wires and from it extend two steel wires which are free to make connections with the weighted mic wires.

i promise it makes more sense when you see it.

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