Lab Updates: 28-06-09

Jeryl and I are alone in the lab. Vanni and Cathy and Iyen were here the other day; Iyen left yesterday.  Yesterday, we moved things around in the sculpture and tried to bring everything together: six monitors, tropical plants, fish aquarium, algae aquarium, PET bottles. It's cramped, but we ended up with something that might workable. Pictures here.

  • Following Kent, we clustered monitors into two groups of three monitors (i.e., there's are two sides of the octagon directly across each other that don't have a monitor).
  • Following Angelo, we vertically divided the interior of the case into a forest-y section and aquarium-y/aquaponic-y section. The division isn't exact and almost nothing is symmetrical, which gives a very narrative feel to the interior.
  • Vanni strung the PET bottles in a haphazard, web-like arrangement... which seems to work better than a highly organized/crystalline tructure. We'll see what Angelo says. Vanni is interested in the idea of configuring the bottles in a way that references the social  web of the Team. 
  • For fun, I tried to see whether the solar fairy garden lights could be recharged by the light bulbs in the sculpture. They can! :)
  • We talked about creating modular units that interlock neatly to form a floor. These units would take into account the position of the various pieces in the interior (i.e., the monitor stands and the aquarium rack). These modular units are actually pots for the plants. They would have a layer of soil on the top, a substratum of something like sand, and underneath would be a layer of gravel or large pebbles, which not only provide the necessary drainage for the plants, but could allow these modular pots to be integrated into the aquaponic system. So we able to keep the Laguna soil in the installation but still integrate the tropical rainforest plants in the aquaponic system. This would require some calculation.
  • The prototype aquaponic system had too much nutrient in the water, so Vic and the other added additional plants and bacteria-rich medium into the system.
  • We talked about clustering systems together: all the electronics could be mounted on racks on one or two of the octagon's sides, all the tubing and pumps could be in another section. Vanni had an interesting idea of putting all the electronic plugs on the side of the octagon where the large tree is pushed against.
  • We talked about the wood carving. Instead of one or two posts being replaced by large carved posts, I asked Vanni if she would consider the idea of carving the "cap" of the installation instead. In this early sketch, notice how there is a horizontal band of wood at the top. (There is a corresponding band at the bottom.) Could this be the wood-carved section instead?
On Friday there was miscommunication between Ems and me (mostly my fault) and the shuttle ended up being cancelled. Iyen, Cathy, and Vanni took the bus. Contrite, I made a large brunch: kesong putipan de sal, roast chicken, my "Asian" ramen salad.

I cleaned the lab all morning. I think we all need to learn better how to clean up after ourselves, put back things either where they found it or somewhere even more logical, throw away things that really have no foreseeable use. That's probably my only gripe for the team from this week. Otherwise, it's been fantastic!

In terms of getting the system to function properly, I think closing the sculpture is the most crucial task of all now. Since the inside is so tight right now (unless we don't use the large aquarium or don't include the massive tree) I was thinking that the only way to get around both the problem of trying to create easy access to the installation and for closing the sculpture was to have every side would be a large, hinged, service door that seals when closed. A hinged door would also be easier to remove from the sculpture and transported.

Angelo is here! He arrived last night.