It begins as a grand idea. A flowering archway welcomes you onto a curving pathway. Fields of grass alight around your ankles, towering trees sing above your head and benches respond to your pressure, colouring a digital sky complete with a custom soundtrack. The landscape would take up a mere 1000 square feet.
Scaling back seems necessary. I cut down the trees, unpave the meandering pathway, and gather the swaths of grass. Then, into a more manageable flower-bed they go.
The main goal behind this project is interaction. One of its destinations will be Calgary’s Beakerhead, it must showcase “science, technology, engineering and math in an outstanding, creative way.” Luckily, a project with as many lights, motors and programming as what I have in mind will make it easy to incorporate all of those elements.
Before getting carried away with the fine details of the design, I have to think what is going to draw people toward the garden? Lights usually do a pretty good job at achieving this, some motion, too. The “grass” will be lit from the bottom and flower bulbs will twinkle at the ends. As a born and raised Albertan, I find something inherently beautiful in fields of gently waving wheat. Inspired by the duck machine, I thought of connecting grassy boards to motors that will make them rise and fall. The idea came around to look something like this:
I collected more ideas for the garden on a Pinterest board. Everything from Battlestar Galactica to origami collected on the wall.
Ideas continue to flow, watering the project so it becomes more solidified and fruitful. At this point, the garden feels firmly rooted and a solid picture of what it will be has emerged: People will come onto the platform surrounding the flower bed. The digital plants wake up and dim, ready to respond to interaction. Moving one’s hands through the grass causes the lights around to glow brighter and the sounds to change pitch. The tall flowers bookending the field play like a musical instrument when touched. It’s a little piece of garden serenity, grown from technology and science!
Read on, explore the technical aspect of the garden.