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Guy Marsden

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Rebecca Schwarz
"Solar Nerve"
  September 2003

Installed in front of the Burlington Electric Company
585 Pine Street, Burlington, Vermont

Simulated light sequence based on 2 time exposures

Rebecca's outdoor installation is intended to represent an active nerve.  It is solar powered and operates at night.  The structure consists of twisted copper wire supporting lengths of clear acrylic rod that are illuminated from the ends by bright white LED lights.  The lights animate to simulate electrical impulses coursing through the ganglia from the trees toward the central nerve body.  The animations are randomized to give a sense of life.

Rebecca describes the piece this way:
Solar Nerve references many scales at once. A vine growing in the trees, a nerve connecting with others, and electrical lines connecting utility poles."

  contact Rebecca at:

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Rebecca sent me her concept rendering for the piece (above) and asked me to design and program controls for the solar powered artwork.  She defined 6 different arms of the nerve that all feed into the center and then assigned a number of lights to each arm.  I created a control box that hangs in the center of the piece that runs on the 12 Volts from the solar panels and battery system that was designed by Vermont Solar Engineering.  The controls choose a random arm and then starts a group of lights chasing along it.  The selection and speeds are all randomized.

Here is the box that I built, inside and out:


It is designed to hang from the brackets on the ends.  There are rows of terminal strips that connect to the lights in banks, wire bundles exit through the holes.

Another view of the piece