Weather Machine II is an interactive installation built for the Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service. The machine is inspired by the natural water cycle: capturing the essence of the evaporation, precipitation and flow processes by using electronics to create an audience driven experience.
Audiences can interact with the installation by holding paddles of a heart rate monitor. The heartbeat of the participant is used to “power” the water cycle; that is, the participants’ heart rate gives life to the water cycle process.
Weather Machine II is made up of a series of electronic components, materials to track the heart rate of participants, theatrical fog machine, lighting, water pump, acrylic, plywood and a micro-computer.
The natural water cycle is represented through the tornado (evaporation), precipitation (water dripping into collection bowls) and flow process (water moving through and reused in a closed system). In nature, the water cycle’s energy is obtained from the sun, however, Weather Machine II is activated when a heart rate is detected from a participant. Through this interaction the participant is responsible for powering the water cycle, and it is hoped audiences will consider the role they play in the water cycle, the environment, and be reminded of the preciousness of this natural resource.
Water dripping from taps into the buckets serves a practical and aesthetic function: it allows water to be collected and drained away, and creates a sound when water hits the bowls. The choice to make a sounding element is inspired by Japanese Suikinkutsu; a type of garden ornament that emits a pleasant sound when water drips inside a large covered upside down pot.