Wednesday, September 30, 2009

it's official! we can blow our head up

you're still invited, but now on MONDAY!

where: Palmer Field (400 Washtenaw Ave.), University of Michigan 
when: MONDAY OCTOBER 5, 3:30 - 6:00

come out and say hello........

Saturday, September 26, 2009

from above

here's a screen cap from multimap which happens to have caught our project while inflated in the backyard of our house! Thanks to Karl D. for alerting us to it. Thanks to multimap for waiting to take the picture until we were fully up.

(Thanks too to all of you who thought this was real... It's big, but not that big... sorry for any confusion.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Feeling small

further inflations

PART I: Unfurling from HOT AIR 2009 - Anca T on Vimeo.

PART II: Blowing it up from HOT AIR 2009 - Anca T on Vimeo.


A small catalogue of images of inflatable projects...











Wednesday, September 16, 2009

preview of the interior

just a preview...

slow progress

We are moving along, but  couple of things have slowed our progress: I started teaching classes again last week, we decided our fan was too big and have to send it back and wait for the new smaller one (hopefully here by tomorrow), we decided to change the position of the opening through which people enter, plus we are so close to being finished that we are having termination anxiety. Anyway, our new estimated day of completion is Friday. (We are actually finished with the inflatable, but need now to add anchor points and a funnel for the wind tunnel...) So... I thought I'd post images of the last workplace: the garage. This was the worst of them all as it was the smallest and most crowded and the inflatable was huge by then. Good thing we progressed to this space gradually or maybe Le would have quit her job.
In the meantime today we replaced the bottom of the neck. It wasn't too time consuming, but then again we have a lot of experience under our belts by now. Here's Le cutting out the form in the driveway.

Our yard has taken a beating in the process of building the inflatable. here's a big patch of brown grass that has developed as a result of the plastic laying on top of it for only a day or two. The problem wasn't the lack of sunlight, but the heat gain. The plastic traps so much heat on a sunny day it's amazing... The calculations I did to size the fan showed that a majority of the concern here (like 90%) was heat gain from the sun and my lawn proved it...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Test Video

This video doesn't capture the inflation, but thought I'd post it for a better feel for the piece... Tomorrow we are slated to finish and inflate for real.

Inflato Test 1 from HOT AIR 2009 - Anca T on Vimeo.

Inflation First Tests

The head is not quite finished. We still have to put the bottom of the neck on. But that's it, so we decided for fun to try and inflate it. We have been working on it so long without any conception of what it would really look like blown up that we just couldn't wait anymore. Here the first images of it being blown up. (video in the next post... tune in later today)

These shots are from late in the afternoon yesterday, so the light was quite nice. We didn't fill it up completely with air because I was in the back holding down the remaining open area, but this gives you an idea of what it will look like eventually. The only tweaking I think we will need to do is in the face to get the nose and lips to be slightly more pronounced (look at picture no.2 - the nose is a bit too flat for example.) This will require some small internal cords.



The deflation starts

Our (big) Fan

This is the fan we are using:

Schaefer's  Versa-Kool Circulation fan VS36VKM. It has a 36" diameter and it's not too loud really... I love it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Big Head - Step 5: Assembly

Once all of the pieces were sealed into "parts", we bagan assembling the inflatable. The size became difficult to manage and filled up my entire backyard, which is pretty big.

And this is about where we are today... The blog now continues in real time... 

The face and side of head in progress

The Big Head - Step 4: Sealing the pieces

After all 147 pieces were cut we began sealing the pieces into the subparts. We used regular household irons and parchment paper. The polyethylene requires very low heat to seal, so the irons were ideal.

Household irons seal two peices of plastic into one in seconds

Workspace at the University of Michigan

First pieces sealed into a "part"

Workspace at home

The Big Head - Step 3: Making the pieces

We began by cutting 110 4' x 14' sheets of plastic. (This is the end of the pile)
Then we traced 147 pieces onto the sheets.
..and cut out the pattern by hand. Using laser cutters became cost prohibitive because of the sizes of the pieces (and the size of our budget.)

Le Nguyen doing the heavy labor

The Big Head - Step 2: Models

After we had the pattern we made two models. The first was a small paper version to check dimensions and shape. The second was a 4' long model made of 4 mil polyethylene, the same material as the final, and inflatable.

The paper model.
The whole family got into it.

The polyethylene model. This model's pieces were all cut on a laser cutter.

From the interior

The Big Head - Step 1: Constructing the pattern

Eventually I decided the early studies were too abstract to symbolize an event in which so many had participated. The piece had to be accessible by many. Additionally, I thought the monument should be inhabitable. The experience of moving inside of the piece could become a way to change an initial reaction to the piece from the exterior. So, the monument took on the shape of the head of a toppled statue.

The head itself is of a generic man, an everyman, to reflect the populace that made the revolutionary changes possible in Romania. It is on its side, toppled, as a critique of the events that ensued after the initial rise of the people, which in effect neutralized much of the revolutionary action.

Constructing the pattern.

To get the form the head of a mannequin is covered in multiple layers of latex. Then it is subdivided along lines of greatest height difference and lines of the facial features.

The latex mold is then cut open and further sliced to flatten out the pattern shapes. These shapes were scanned into the comuter and traced into drawings which could be manipulted.