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Sci-Tech

Kinetic sculpture reflects meteor impacts on the moon

The lunar surface gets artsy in the hands of two London digital designers and their data-driven hanging sculpture based on cosmic events.

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Spectra undulates based on NASA data recorded from May 2006 to May 2014. Field

At first glance, Spectra might seem like your average levitating kinetic sculpture. But dig a little deeper, and you'll discover a levitating kinetic sculpture driven by space.

The piece hovers as if to mimic the moon's lack of atmosphere. And its movements -- sometimes smooth and wavelike, other times more jarring -- are synchronized to reflect the effect of meteor impacts on the lunar surface.

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Circuit boards and motors control the sculpture's triangular components. Laurence Symonds engineered the installation. Field

The creators of the steel installation, now on display at a space called 43M3 as part of the London Design Festival, based Spectra on NASA data recorded from May 2006 to May of this year.

Each of 12 recorded meteor impacts, varying in intensity, size, duration and origin, triggers movements in the undulating piece over the course of 3 hours, as well as sound shifts in a dynamically generated soundtrack. Viewers can follow the impacts on a data display.

"The mass of data that drives the installation contrasts with its very minimal design, creating an abstract sculptural expression of cosmic events that took place thousands of miles away," the creators, a London-based digital-art duo with a studio called Field, told Crave.

Though the artists have until now dealt solely with pixels, this piece has a definite real-world engineering component. It hangs from the ceiling, and circuit boards and motors control the custom-designed triangular pieces that make up Spectra like so many craters.

"The idea for Spectra is that it is a half-digital, half-physical landscape," Field tells Accept & Proceed, a London design studio and Field's creative partner in the endeavor.

"In a virtual environment you can defy the laws of physics, simulate hyper-real conditions, achieve the most vibrant colors, materials, reflections. We want to fuse these characteristics from our digital work into the physical piece."

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Can you see yourself in this man-made lunar surface? Field