Exploring Zephyr with Harvey Moon from Spectra Studios
Harvey Moon from Spectra Studio discusses creating 'Zephyr,' an interactive origami object that responds to visitors' breath and movement. Spectra Studio is a multidisciplinary collective based in Los Angeles. They create multi-sensory experiences meant to be shared. They work on experimental projects like 'Zephyr' and also provide services to clients. In the interview, we explore the Spectra Studio process and uncover some insightful reflections on how they might have approached prototyping differently in this project. We examine the nature of the interactions in the piece and how they contribute to shared experiences for the viewers. We also discuss the difference between Harvey's solo work and the collaborative work at Spectra Studio.
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(0:00:00) Dialogue with the audience vs. one-to-one interaction
- (0:01:40) Description of Zephyr
- (0:03:30) Connection between breath, reflection, and natural rhythms
- (0:05:32) Sensing breath and CO2 levels
- (0:06:07) Meditative response from visitors
- (0:07:45) Consideration of sound in future prototypes
- (0:08:38) Origami and breath as inspiration for Zephyr
- (0:10:30) Focus on physical, kinetic, and sculptural experiences
- (0:11:53) More unfinished projects than finished ones
- (0:12:59) Challenges of scaling up and iterating the design
- (0:13:38) Description of Spectra Studio and its collaborative process
- (0:15:27) Balancing commercial work with artistic and creative work
- (0:16:41) Everyone in the team wears multiple hats
- (0:18:24) Working alone vs working collaboratively
- (0:19:42) Lessons learned from the Zephyr project
- (0:20:21) Balancing project complexity and constraints
- (0:21:47) Current projects: travelling exhibit, projection dome, kinetic works
- (0:22:20) Advice for those interested in kinetic work
About Harvey Moon
Harvey Moon is a new media artist who explores the intersection of technology and perception. He creates custom software, electronics, and kinetic systems to extend our understanding of the world and how technology influences our lives. Moon's art challenges audiences to question their perceptions and reflect on the role of technology in shaping our future.
Harvey Moon holds an MFA from DMA at UCLA and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been showcased internationally, including exhibitions at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Nuit Blanche Festival in Toronto. Currently, he resides and works in Los Angeles, California.
About Spectra Studio
Spectra Studio is a multidisciplinary collective based in Los Angeles, California. Spectra Studio combines art with the possibilities of technology to transform ideas into tangible, multisensory experiences meant for sharing. Experimental by nature, their practice is fueled by research, collaboration, and discovery. Spectra Studio's goal is to evoke emotions, express the inexplicable, and reflect on how we relate to the physical, the digital, and the unknown.
Zephyr's concept and experience
"Zephyr was really about the breath, and how the Earth has its own breath."
Zephyr is an immersive kinetic art installation designed to represent and respond to human breath and the Earth's own rhythms. As visitors enter the space and interact with the piece, it mimics their movements and breathing patterns, fostering a meditative experience. The experience is intended to reflect on the power and value of breath and the interconnectedness of all elements within the Earth's ecosystem.
Technical design of Zephyr
The installation combines 3D printing with origami techniques, forming structures that can extend and contract. Controlled by motors and sensors, these structures respond to CO2 levels and proximity, creating a dynamic environment.
"I always felt like it was more interesting to have a sort of dialogue with the audience rather than a sort of one-to-one, did I do it right or wrong? Sort of interaction with the visitor. So if it became sort of too gamified, then I think it sort of lost some of the beauty of its autonomy."
Harvey and Robin discuss how the artwork’s interaction goes beyond simple cause and effect or right and wrong responses. Instead, the focus is on creating an environment where the art and viewer engage in a meaningful, reciprocal dialogue. This approach fosters a deeper level of engagement and contemplation, allowing the audience to experience a more organic and less structured interaction with the art.
Creative process and inspiration
“I think it's always fun to sort of let a lot of that go in the process, and then let the piece tell you and teach you a bit after you made some time and work into it."
The idea for Zephyr evolved organically from collaborator Dave Hull's work with origami and kinetic forms. The project's development was not linear; instead, it grew through prototyping.
Solo vs. collaborative work
"I guess, you know, someone said, if you work alone, you can sprint. But if you work together, you can go a lot farther."
Harvey finds solo work allows for deep, focused, and rapid development of ideas, while collaborative projects offer the benefit of creating something larger and more enduring, evolving over time through shared input and innovation.
Spectra Studios' approach
"We're not thinking about the screen or, or a rectangle that things can exist on, it's more about how do we create a space where people can share in that environment and that space, and share that experience."
At Spectra Studios, the emphasis is on creating physical and interactive art spaces, steering clear of solely digital or virtual experiences. The studio aims to create environments that bring people together, focusing on the communal aspect of art.
"We've learned from there to really focus on one and really iterate a bit more and get it perfected before you scale up to 15. Because of the scale of 15 to 20 of these items, each working independently and calibrating on their own and communicating, it became a bit more of a task to keep replicating that."
Reflecting on Zephyr, Harvey highlights the importance of perfecting a prototype before scaling up, noting the complexities and unexpected challenges that arise with kinetic works. He suggests focusing on quality and refinement in the initial stages to avoid complications during expansion, emphasising the importance of learning from each project and continuously improving.
“For kinetic stuff, it takes a lot more practice and experience, you're going to need to learn the materiality of what you're working with. So you really are going to need to spend a lot of time practising and finding the materials that you work best with."
Harvey stresses the importance of experimenting with materials, understanding their properties, and learning through practice.