With the request from CMU Facilities Maintenance Services to bring awareness to the campus' energy consumption, we had two directions we could have headed in. In one, we emphasize the wastefulness of energy usage on campus - make them realize how wasteful they really are. We make them feel guilty. In contrast, we could use data to show students how their hard work can pay off - how their use of energy can be created and tested, not criticized and demeaned. We chose this option with Lavoisier.
Lavoisier is a public data driven installation on view at Carnegie Mellon University’s Cohen Center gym. Referencing the father of chemistry, Antoine de Lavoisier, and his famous quote on entropy “Nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed” the artwork attempts to warn and educate students on the scale of their energy usage, all the while prompting them to channel their energy and give it back.
The installation uses energy usage data from CMU’s Facilities Management Services, which is compared to levels from the gym’s electricity generating sports equipment. The dynamic artwork, which attempts to use the least amount of energy possible, is built out of Yupo paper and string, with simple motors flipping each individual kaleidocycle.
A threshold is set in the absolute difference between energy spent and energy generated. The closer the generated energy gets to that threshold, the faster the shapes flip as a reaction to their environment. Lavoisier additionally utilizes autonomous sensory meridian response (asmr) by creating a soft auditory rhythm, stemming from the flipping of the folded kaleidocycles. The responsive pull of the string tugs and strains, evoking sensations similar to someone working out. As the gym-goers move, the installation moves with them. The installation offers an eco-friendly and delightful way of informing students on their energy usage, while rewarding them with an embellished environment the more energy they generate.