Solar/UV Tech

The design solution and tech expertise for the realisation of Bug Cinema is being facilitated by Solaqua – a local company based in the town of Chatham on the other side of the Hudson River.

As it states on their website: ‘Solaqua Power & Art is developing programs that advance the arts, and the integration of renewable energy to power high-energy consumption industrial arts. Solaqua will provide green technology and support services for artisans, emerging and established, working in a variety of disciplines. Solaqua is building collaborative local and national partnerships to promote a sustainable future through community participation, education and revitalization.’

Solaqua’s post-industrial home…

Solaqua are an integral partner on the Bug Cinema project. I am working closely with their founder and senior engineer/designer Jody Rael to develop a suitable and effective kit set-up for the creation of the glow-lab. More information about Jody can be found on the Collaborations page of this blog.

The white fabric material required for creating the actual cubic structure of the Bug Cinema glow-lab is relatively easy to source and straightforward to install in the forest. The other two core components of the structure are, of course, crucial to its functional success – Energy and Light:

In a similar spirit and ethos as my 2009 forest art commission/residency Folly, I felt compelled to make Bug Cinema as low-impact on the environment as possible, in-situ. From the outset it was obvious that, energy-wise, the glow-lab would be operated ‘off-grid’ in the forest, so I needed to find an effective and reliable power source that is both portable and renewable. The answer: a waterproof solar panel – the kind of small-scale apparatus that is used on domestic boats and caravans.

an example of the type of portable solar panel that Bug Cinema will use

Traditionally, entomologists use the actinic UV ‘black-light’ (12v) bulbs for traps, although (as they’re glass) they are pretty fragile. However it’s possible to replicate very similar UV light wavelength (380–450nm) using LED lights, which are lighter and much more robust for travelling with. UV LED lighting is most commonly used in aquariums and marine design. The science of light is complex and it’s something, the basics of which I’m only just beginning to learn – fascinating! Moths in particular are attracted most readily to the ultraviolet black-light, however other light types with higher wavelength (possibly up-to 600nm approx) sometimes prove effective too.

The solar panel will charge during daylight hours and then each evening it will be connected to the UV LED lights through a basic 12v system. The LED lighting strips will then be hung across the white fabric panels of the glow-lab, bathing the sculpture in an iridescent glow. As the research phase of Bug Cinema progresses, I will blog post images and descriptions of the actual apparatus I’m using on site.




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