Breaking new ground in the world of peacock tail water screen shows.
Bringing a technology normally relegated to lakes, lagoons, rivers and ponds onto dry land??.
Development of the Mirage WaterScape DLS-320 System
In early February of 2008 World renown contemporary artist Usman Haque and Mark Flaisher called and asked if we could perform a peacock tail screen display in the ocean at Santa Monica Pier for the city wide GLOW event for 2008. I checked out Usman’s work via the internet and was somewhere between stunned and awestruck by what I saw. It was the most creative and inspiring work I have seen in my lifetime. Usman’s work consisted of fantastically intricate shapes that would react to sound input, hence, they were interactive. This way the audience would actually create and control the video generated artwork by cheering, whooping and generally screaming into a set of 6 microphones set up in front of the 120’ wide display.
Both Usman and Mark wanted to see how the artwork would look on a water screen, so, we scheduled a scaled down test in our parking lot. The folks from the city of Santa Monica whom were sponsoring the event were also in attendance. 10 seconds into the test everyone’s jaws were on the floor!!!. None of us had seen anything like it. It was absolutely beautiful, like an exploding rainbow crossed with a slithering snake with psychedelic butterfly wings and a jellyfish body, (OK. I was never that good with words) We all just stood there grinning and giggling like little kids. We were now motivated to a point of do or die to make this happen. It also helped that Usman is one of the nicest people ever to walk this planet.
The layout and geometry that they had approached us with, however, was not conducive to crisp clear playback imagery and secondly they were under the impression that we could operate the MPC in the surf zone which just wasn’t possible. Of all the places on earth, the surf zone is one of the few places you just can put a water screen system, especially in California where a typical day cranks at about 4’-6’, (that’s a 12’ wave from the front).
It took several weeks and we went through a lot of scenarios and design iterations and had just about exhausted all of them when after much anguish, we finally decided to bring it (the water screen) up on the beach and completely remove it from the ocean. It seemed strange to propose a water screen show concept on a beach and within a few feet of the ocean yet completely isolated from it. One reason we went through so many scenarios was that we stuck with using a submersible system (The MPC) as it would be the easiest and most economical. As it turned out, we considered using dry pumps and from then on it took shape relatively quickly. We had 7 pumps from the Yumi Shangri La-III tour that were capable of producing a steel splitting 500 PSI, so, we decided to put some of them to use.
We surmised that we could excavate a reservoir into the sand fairly easily and could contour a large recovery area around the reservoir. In essence, we would be creating a pool in the sand with a giant shallow funnel around it. All it really needed was a shallow, slow sloping grade that would channel the fallout water back to the central reservoir. We would use a large plastic liner to seal up the reservoir and create the “pool”. Since it was sand it seemed that it would be easy to move around and excavate, but, as it turns out sand isn’t so easy to excavate as it is so mushy. It took a bulldozer, but, after a few hours it had pretty much taken shape. Since we needed to support a nozzle in the middle of the pool it ended up looking something like a horseshoe shaped mote.
We took as many factors into consideration as we could think of and we tried to think of them all. Our approach to new product development is to come up with an idea, perfect it, then shoot as many holes in it as we possibly can. The more brutal the proof regime is, then the more viable the concept will be if it survives. It’s that simple. Anyway, we tried to think of everything that could possibly go wrong with the concept, but, it made it through the process and a pretty solid design came out the other side. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we had just invented and perfected the “WaterScape DLS-320” system.
The heart of the Pumping system would consist of 3 very high pressure 20 HP multi stage pumps. We designed a manifold to gang three of the high pressure pumps together and built a pump pallet arrangement that would be easy to transport and load into a rough environment with an uneven floor.
The manifold had to withstand 250 PSI, and yet be easy to assemble and break down. It had to be flexible enough in certain sections to avoid problems that would arise from misalignment of the pumps. It also had to be capable of being linked and assembled without suffering misalignment problems caused by the system resting on sand. The manifold took longer to design than any other single element, but, in the end it worked like a champ.
Benjamin Ritt of Mirage’s “VooDoo Projects Lab” built the system and headed up the installation. Ben said that working in the sand and hot sun in the middle of July was a real bitch to say the least, but, everything went pretty much as planned and on the 3rd day it was up and running.
It drew such a large crowd the event organizers had to shut it down for a while. The crowd was just getting to big and unruly. Once they settled down and thinned out a little we lit it back up and went till sun up. It drew the biggest crowd by far for the entire city wide event.
It was a stupendous success and the birth of our Dry Land System, so, we were pretty high on success for a while after that. There is a lot of footage and editorial on YouTube of the screen and the GLOW 2008 event. Just search “GLOW 2008” “ Santa Monica GLOW 2008” or “Usman Haque” or “Primal Source” (That was the official name of Usman’s display).
A massive thanks goes to Usman Haque, Mark Flaisher, Jessica Cusick from the City of Santa Monica, Marc Pally and the Peter Norton Family Foundation and the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
Let’s do this again some time!!!!
Usman has other amazing technology/Art also on YouTube and on his website (haque.co.uk). Check out the “Burbles” and you’ll see what I mean about brilliant stuff. Usman is available at;
haque: design + research
1 Adolphus Road, London N4 2AS
+44 20 8802 8406
Mirage WaterWorks, Inc.
San Bernardino, CA 92408
ph (714) 323-0556
INNOVATION ENGINEERING & DESIGN
TEMPERED with EXPERIENCE
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