Emily Webster

The Abscissa Cycle

A physical object which models the gravitational forces found in a Neutron Star.


The Nature of Code

The mysterious substance known as Superfluid is described as “a friction-free state of matter that, normally, only exists in ultra-cold laboratory settings." Inspired by an image depicting this matter at the nucleus of a neutron star, I began to research this elusive material. Despite the friction-less state within the neutron star, intense gravitation forces still exist. Such a strong gravitational field acts as a gravitational lens and bends the radiation emitted by the star such that parts of the normally invisible rear surface become visible. Under the lens of a particle system, I found this network to be an interesting system to explore in the processing environment.

After creating the 2D processing sketch, I wanted to remodel this sketch, returning it to a 3D object. By capturing the sketch during different phases of its evolution I was able to separate out individual layers. Then, by etching those layers onto separate plexi-glass plates, painting and stacking the layers, I began to extrude the sketch and translate the piece from an on-screen rendering to the physical object. The final piece spans 2 feet and allows the visitor to move around between the separated layers. I felt this type of interaction was appropriate given the gravitational forces described above.

I have been using processing to create 2D sketches for 2 semesters now and always wanted to use it as a tool to create something physical. The neutron star which the particles are modeled after begged to be translated into the physical world.


User Scenario
People walk around the entire piece to view it at various angles. Around, under, through from a distance, from behind, the piece looks different from every angle!

The piece is made of Plexi-glass and paint and is strung from the ceiling and hung with cables. Floating in the air, the plates of plexi glass are separated to give depth through layering. Ideally the space around the project is dark, but lit with very bright light so as to be able to direct rays of light through the plexi, highlighting the plexi and the etchings on either side.

I would consider leaving out the dense particle layers. They are interesting to view individually, but they're slightly distracting when the piece is viewed at a distance as a whole. I would also lower the cable structure so it is at a high that it is easier to view.