The Wanderwave Fountain

A proposal for new art

A small, imprecise version of a "Wanderwave tower" made to test the theory behind the proposed 'Wanderwave Fountain'. This demo shows that the theory works and also informs us how to design the towers more effectively. The full-size towers will also be more presentable, made with permanent parts, driven with more power input for both water and motion, and be extensively waterproofed.
The fountain is capable of shaking its water-streams at ultra high speed and accuracy, then animating hidden patterns in each stream. Shown here in downtown Wellington, the Wanderwave could be set up anywhere with a water source and 10 amp power.

The fountain is capable of shaking its water-streams at ultra high speed and accuracy, then animating hidden patterns in each stream.

Shown here in downtown Wellington, the Wanderwave could be set up anywhere with a water source and 10 amp power.

 
 

Old tech, new idea.

The Wanderwave combines several fairly old technologies to create a new effect in a fountain. While the technology itself is nothing new, it can be given precise instructions by running snippets of computer code that send instructions with synchronised and extremely high-resolution timing.

Like many of my other works, the Wanderwave creates a science-demonstration as its canvas, then explores the possibilities of that canvas in sync with music or other performance elements.

In this case, the canvas allows for "shaken" waves of water to appear to freeze in mid-air, move in slow-motion, or even move backwards towards its source. Since every light is multi-coloured, it can even run multiple effects simultaneously on a single stream. Each cabinet can turn on its water separately, adjust the flicker-speed of its LED lights, and adjust the frequency of its electromagnetic wave-shaker.

When the frequency of the LED flicker is the same as the shaken wave (eg 26hz), the water will be "animated" to appear static, frozen in the air. Adjusting the frequencies in relation to each other will trigger other illusions in varying degrees.

The Wanderwave will be set to an event-specific music track as well as having a freestyle interactive mode controllable from a MIDI keyboard. There is also the daytime possibility to create live wave-shapes in the air based on microphone input, for example an "oooo" sound will look different to an "eeee" sound. Participants (ie audience) will be encouraged to interact with the water and music (eg dancing around it, even touching the water) with some people invited to "play god" on the MIDI keyboard or vocalise in to the microphone.

The components for this piece (when made as 6 towers) are valued around $15,000 of which $6000 are work-specific and $9000 are reusable.

 
 
Sketch of cabinet internals. These are the robots that provide the electromechanical drive for water on/off, water "shaking" and lighting sequence.

Sketch of cabinet internals. These are the robots that provide the electromechanical drive for water on/off, water "shaking" and lighting sequence.

 
 

NEXT STEPS

The project has been successfully prototyped and is ready to be built at scale.

There are significant costs to building the full-size artwork which I am looking to partially cover with grant funding.