Quintessence is an interactive, environmental installation made for At the Tone, the Time will be…. The show was the final part of David Stout’s Spring 2018 Intermedia Performance Art class. Collaborators for this project were Elaine Di Falco and Austin Poorbaugh.
Known as quinta essentia in Medieval Latin, the dodecahedron and its accompanying objects and sounds serve to represent the intrinsic beauties of geometry. Of the five platonic solids, the dodecahedron is held by some to represent the universe as a whole, while the other four serve as the primal elements of creation. Playing on the idea of nested universes, multiple dodecahedrons exist in the space representing a universe we can travel into, a universe we can peer into, and a universe we can control.
A 14-foot dodecahedral structure was created as a nested universe into which show attendants could enter.
The major interactive dodecahedron was created through the use of PVC piping and custom 3D-printed connectors. Four faces of the polygon were covered with stretched muslin to be used as a light-catching surface for two projectors and the laser cut dodecahedron-shaped star projecting lamp.
A large amount of research went into creating the 3D printed connectors. Other than modeling an unconventional shape with unconventional angles, the difficulty with the 3D printing connectors was making sure they were structurally stable enough to hold up the sculpture. Lots of variations were created to test the best settings to use with FDM fabrication in order to find the strongest and most economical settings.
In order to convey the concept of macro vs. micro, close-up footage of various substances and biological samples were chosen to be projected on three of the faces of the big “universe” dodecahedron. The last roof face of the shape was left projection-less in order to catch the stars from the star-lamp.
As a performance aspect to the universe-building, three handheld platonic solids were made, an icosahedron, a tetrahedron, and another dodecahedron. These were emblazoned with Greek astronomical symbols and outfitted with interior gyroscopes and lights. As the shapes are handled and twisted and turned, the gyroscopic outputs were converted into audio signals within Max MSP, effectively creating a set of Platonic instruments.
An outdoor version of the installation was taken up to Seattle for the Lusio festival in August of 2018.