Cyclica is a 6ft aluminum spinning disc that I built in 2023, it debuted at:

  • Love Burn 2023
  • Jetlag 2023
  • Burning Man 2023

I will continue to take it to other events when I feel like it.

Cyclica’s amazing placement by the Temple of the Desert Rose and the Hedgehog temple

I must thank:

Here are some more pictures!

Cyclica got very wet and soggy but never stopped spinning
Cyclica at Love Burn

So far, only the first disc is complete. I describe the full vision for the piece below, but I think due to the large cost of each disc, I might never get around to making all four.

Cyclica is four 6ft diameter motorized rotating brushed aluminum discs containing angular and geometric inner structures giving a look of foreboding power. The discs are placed in a line, which will enable the inner structure to create visual illusions when rotating – the angular shapes will meld and appear wavy at slow speeds of rotation. At higher speeds of rotation, participants will hear the sculpture’s “windwands”, essentially fabric bands held in the airstream that vibrate when moved quickly through the air. This creates a deep primal grumbling sound. The inner structure contains over 5,000 LEDs to illuminate the piece. A central controller will incorporate sensor data to give the piece changing “emotional states” represented by coordinated light, motion, and sound from the discs. Participant’s actions around the piece are sensed and impact its immediate behavior while also feeding a memory causing each interaction to forever slightly alter the “personality” of the piece.

Cyclica is meant to reflect on the cyclical nature of the state of human emotions and the environments that shape our personalities. Cyclica’s motion and light patterns will create an abstract representation of an emotional state. A variety of sensor inputs will cause this “mood” to shift over time. Some sensors will directly respond to participants, resulting in fast changes. Proximity sensors will track the number of participants and their position around the piece. Microphones capture volume level. Environmental sensors (light, temperature) result in slower mood shifts, tweaking the effect of participant sensors. The shifts will not be simple hardcoding, inputs will be weighted differently and fed into a big feedback loop creating emergent patterns of behavior. For observant participants, there will be a puzzle of finding the patterns of emotion and what impacts them. All of these interactions will feed a “memory”, the final input to the mood. Every participant’s visit to the piece will leave a permanent mark on its behavior. From every event, the cumulative interactions may leave the piece “grumpier” or “calmer” than before.

The piece rotating (old design for cutouts in bars)

The piece is powered with a motor that spins the disc through a belt system. An encoder sensor is used to detect the position of the disc and enable coordinated motion patterns.

The drive support. A motor and gearbox sits at the bottom and powers a shaft that spins the disc at the top
Drive shaft spinning with some wood attached

The discs are created from laser cut and CNC bent aluminum sheet metal.

Quarter of a disc under assembly

The LED strips are placed inside the “U” formed by the bends in in the sheet metal. The light will reflect off adjacent bars and through the holes in the aluminum. It should look neat.

The “windwands” are essentially nylon webbing (i.e. ratchet strap material) stretched tight with a tensioning system across the disc. When the disc rotation becomes fast enough the webbing will vibrate and produce sound.

Strap tensioning system and arrows showing placement of the strap