What have you made?
Reflection of the Age is an installation that reacts to movement. The closer the viewer gets to the installation, the closer the installation gets to him. However, once the viewer crosses a specific boundary, the extended arm goes back to its starting position to literally escape from the viewer's reach. It's an analogical visualization of the exaggerated desire for the unreachable — something we lose as soon as we want more than we can ever get at that specific moment in time.
What gave you the initial inspiration?
At one point during my high school studies I got very interested in literature, and it was George Orwell and his novel 1984 that struck me the most; the way Orwell was able to foresee the future was frightening. Most of all though, it was his views on society, its hierarchy and the permanent surveillance system using cameras — Big Brother. While it has got nothing to do with mammon, the key theme of my installation, to me the primary source of inspiration was Orwell and his work.
What is the original idea behind this project?
In today's society mammon (excessive desire for wealth) has become an increasing trend. At every corner we get a shedload of "celebrities" showing how they live their lives filled with luxury. Their wealth is scrutinized on TV in countless shows focusing specifically on this social class. Many people get blinded by the desire to be just like the faces from the magazine covers. Besides other factors it was for this reason that I decided to bring up this topics and show it to a wider audience through my master's thesis.
How does it work?
The installation is just like a living organism. Its key component is the viewer whose impulse brings the installation to life. His or her every movement is being recorded through two ultrasonic sensors ("eyes") that send the information to two Arduino Maga 2560 ("right and left hemisphere"). From there the signal goes to 70x Micro Servo 9g SG 90 ("muscles") that sets in motion 70 mechanical arms. The mechanic arms stretch closer to the viewer's arms, but only to the point where the viewer crosses with his/her arms the imaginary line, in which case the mechanic arms pull back to their starting position. The whole structure ("skeleton") consists of aluminium profiles and weighs about 15 kg.
How long did it take to make it real?
I spent 6 months on the project, of which the biggest chunk of time was spent on actually figuring out how to physically create the idea.
How did you build it?
For the construction I mainly use aluminium profiles and aluminum rods. As the material to form the arms I used Perspex, which has been laser-cut to the desired shape and then hand-bent using heat gun. Other components have been already mentioned above — ultrasonic sensors, 2x Arduino Mega 2560 with Sensor Shield, 70x Micro Servo 9g SG 90, 70x Polystyrene Balls 100 mm and countless cables.