Sonumbra is the world’s first fully animated and responsive lace structure used in an architectural context. It consists of an architectural structure with a large-scale light emitting lace as a tensile textile. Sonumbra responds to the interplay and activity of people surrounding the structure by creating an atmosphere of musical rhythms, harmonies and luminous patterns that are composed by the visitors’ movement. An omnidirectional camera installed in the mast captures all surrounding activity, translating each person’s exact location. The result is an installation that not only defines a social activity but also demonstrates how pattern can be heard and experienced simultaneously. Extensive material research and fabrication techniques were carried out over a three- month period followed by user testing to calibrate and develop the interaction design and software.
An initial version of Sonumbra, created for Mowbray Park, Sunderland was commissioned by Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and Sunderland City Council supported by ISIS Arts in December 2006. It was also exhibited at the Faster Than Sound Event at The Aldeburgh Festival (June 2007) and in Madrid (Efimera01, June 2007) Both exhibitions attracted substantial press.
In addition we have been commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art in New York to develop a bespoke installation of Sonumbra to be shown in February 2008 in an exhibition called ‘Design and the Elastic Mind’.
Sonumbra has potential for developing countries depends on the integration of photovoltaic capabilities into the textile. By day it could offer shelter from the sun and by night it would shed light for a local community using energy captured in solar cells within the lace construction.
Related themes in my research are currently being pursued at Queen Elisabeth Hospital investigating the Hospital’s need for stimulating artworks that address issues of energy supply for lighting (supported by a Leverhulme Grant).