making water light graffiti

This blew me away:

Water Light Graffiti by Antonin Fourneau is a piece created in the Digitalarti Artlab in Paris.

I’m amazed by its interactive and public elements, something I think about a lot at New American Public Art. It is sort of synaesthetic too- wetness is turned into light.

I immediately wondered how it was made… I sent an e-mail to the Sprout listserv, and was pumped to find that students at the BU Makerspace BUILDS are working on a PCB to have this same sort of interaction.

Chris Woodall wrote back telling me of it:

Me and a friend over at the BUILDS Hackerspace at BU are currently working on a PCB layout, but after inspection of his circuit its all really simple, but could be made more complicated.

Basically there are two exposed pieces of metal around each LED (that correspond to each LED). Water is all pretty much conductive (due to the fact that water ionizes things) and as water is splashed onto these metal contacts you will have an decrease in resistance and allow current to flow through the LED. All said and done, taking some measurements you generally wont get much lower than 100k, but it is geometry dependent; however, for many LEDs, especially super efficient super bright ones, this is enough current to get a pretty bright light coming out of them (we attempted with a small pad 1206 pad on a PCB we had around and a super bright 3mm blue LED).

Here is a video of one of their experiments:

I’m pumped this is happening right in Boston! Looking forward to the PCB developments.

Here is a video of the Water Light Graffiti artist, Antonin Fourneau talking about the fabrication process. It’s pretty awesome to see the developments from the prototype to the final form. It is in French, but you can still pick up a lot just by seeing what he is doing.

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