Exploration Through Motion
As the final project for their first year at university, Charles Barilo, Peter Holderith and Zachary Samalonis and the rest of their class were tasked with choosing a painting within the Philadelphia Art Museum and developing it into a machine integrating the seven Da Vincian principles.
Inspired by the depth in the painting and its underlying sense of exploration, the group chose to base their project on “Grand Canyon of the Colorado River” by Thomas Moran. To begin with, they researched the canyon itself; looking at topographical maps, the layout of the river, and how it shaped the canyon. They settled on featuring an area of the canyon with a bend in the river, and began drawing out the areas they wished to raise using Adobe Illustrator.
Using paddle gears, that would have been available in Da Vinci's time, they also designed a visual gear box including a reduction system to reduce the torque produced by the weight of the map, as well as to lift the map slowly to help show the passage of time. These were also designed in Illustrator before being laser cut. Inside the box is a series of cams, which do all of the heavy-lifting.
The map itself went through several revisions. After the first laser cut session, they discovered that there was too much friction between the individual pieces, making it hard to move anything. They then went back and simplified the design, and made adjustments to the tolerance. Much later in the design process, they decided to add a masonite platform underneath the map - this helped them to align their dowels to 90 degrees to ensure good vertical motion for all the pieces.
All in all, this project took the group over 200 hours to research, design and construct. 11 hours were spent on laser cutting alone! You can read more about this amazing project over on Behance. Zachary, Charles and Peter are all undergraduate students at Philadelphia University, studying Industrial Design. You can also follow Charles' and Zachary's work over on Behance.