Solar Equation

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Mexico/Québec)


Commissioned by Federation Square, Melbourne, for the Light in Winter.

A simulation of the sun, 100 million times smaller than the real thing.

An uncanny and spectacular flying landmark, Solar Equation featured the world’s largest spherical helium balloon, custom-made for the project. For Lumiere Durham 2013 it was tethered over Durham University’s Science site and animated using ten projectors.

The solar animation on the balloon was generated by live mathematical equations that simulated the turbulence, flares and sunspots that can be seen on the surface of the sun. This produced a constantly changing display that never repeated itself, giving viewers a glimpse of the majestic phenomena that can be seen on the solar surface. The project used the latest SOHO and SDO solar observatory imaging available from NASA, overlaid with live animations derived from NavierStokes, reaction diffusion, perlin and fractal flame equations.

An onboard camera allowed the piece to react to the people in public space: the more people detected, the more turbulence was created.

Born in Mexico, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is an Electronic Artist who develops interactive installations that are at the intersection of architecture and performance art. His large-scale interactive installations have been commissioned for events across the world. He has also received two BAFTA British Academy Awards for Interactive Art in London, a Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica in Austria, a Rockefeller fellowship, the Trophée des Lumières in Lyon and an International Bauhaus Award in Dessau.


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