We decided recently to start meeting with people from other departments. Because we now know enough about what questions we want to ask and how we want to express them, we feel capable of addressing others without fear that the momentum of our conversation will lead us astray. It is important that we consult with others because we need to know if our ideas our coming through. Art is nothing if the message is completely lost and no new message arises. We also hope to glean knowledge from the expertise of others. By seeing what specialists are excited about, we know what is interesting to be asking about. For instance, after talking to Timur we realized that his interests in quantum entanglement and recursion are not outside the realm of art, and are most definitely interesting concepts to think about.
We listed out questions we are asking and sought after departments that might help us either deepen the question or lead us to new and interesting paths. We then tried to see how each person we want to meet with ties together with the others, because asking many disjointed questions can be didactic without a common thread. The hope for our meetings, then, is not a simple answer to logistical questions but rather an ability to see the same ideas from many perspectives.
After broadly deciding what is important to us (sustainable materials, energy needs, biological environments, climate, ect.), we decided to see how our perception of the sculpture has changed. I said we should ground ourself to what is physically there, then we could go into the ideas behind the physical structure later.
We started with what was most important to us. Jane and I really like the idea of magnetic suspension/levitation, so we made this a priority. If it were suspended above the water by magnets, we said it would be interesting if the magnet's strength varied (change in electromagnetic current) so the sculpture rocks like it is on the surface. It would make physical contact become a force at a distance. The rocking may be arbitrary, or it could respond to something environmental (rocks faster in the heat, ect. Though the balance of whether it is totally reflexive in response, or acts like it has synesthesia may be difficult). We also agreed before that transparency would be interesting because we could look within the piece, and possibly fill or compartmentalize it. In order to suspend it with magnets (and also have circuitry for anything else we do), we would have to have either exposed wires and magnets or some internal compartment. Obviously we liked the idea of a compartment within the transparent material we use. The surface of the transparent shell could be covered in clear photovoltaics, and these could possibly use fiberoptics to get messages/energy to the core. If not, perhaps wires could be concealed when they go from PV surface to the core.
The shape of the core was the next problem. We had spoken earlier about evolutionary biology, and I mentioned it would be interesting to think about the old sculpture as evolving. What parts are useful and therefore amplified? What becomes "useless" with time and is vestigial. I commented that the original is so close to two separate entities connected by the thin neck. If this neck were to disappear, perhaps the inner core would actually be the original in 2 parts. In the past we had also mentioned limestone corroded by acid rain, and it would be interesting to subject a limestone model of the original to acid. The inner form, then, would be the original after a long time. It would be worn by its environment, and evolve to cope. The clear part around it could have plasma jolting through it. We decided this just due to the fact that plasma could exist in this hollow space, though when we thought about it grew to like the idea more. If the core is the sculpture affected by the environment, the space between shell and core could be the environment itself. Plasma, perhaps acidic clouds, and other untapped ideas could fill this space with a future or past climate. If we could make acidic clouds inside, the core could have a surface that responds to pH. Also, when water condenses on the shell and drips on the core, we could make a ripple in the underlying water (as if it dripped onto the water. This is another force at a distance, so it is interesting to see how the original "core" really still affects/is affected by contact with the water). On the surface of the shell, diatoms could grow their glass viral batteries. Perhaps somewhere GFP would be expressed. With both of these, the food source is still a problem. We do not really want to have a person hired to feed the sculpture's bacteria indefinitely.
A lot of logistical issues still stand in the way, and we need to think more about whether every message we want is getting through. However, we are definitely making progress. Hopefully our meetings with a series of specialists will help broaden and narrow our ideas in the optimal way.