Hi I’m Gilad

I love data, analysis and visualization. Chief data scientist at betaworks.

Aerogel Installation at TEDActive

I was fortunate to be invited this year as one of the contributing artists at TEDActive. This is the simulcast event that happens in Palm Springs at the same time that the main TED event takes place in Long Beach. The organizers frame it not as “TED jr.” but rather a more intimate version of TED; in essence, what it used to be like before it became a 1500 person event.

Ironically enough, Bing sponsored a really cool lounge which included a number of interactive art pieces. This is were Dan Goods and I installed a variation the Aerogel installation. For TEDActive, we slightly altered its interactivity and the projected material:

Aerogel is a solid made up of 99.8% air and 0.2% of a smoky form of silicon, hence its other name: ‘solid smoke’. While it is easily breakable, the material is super light and a fantastic heat insulator. Throughout the week, Dan would let people hold a piece of Aerogel on their hand while directing a blow-torch at it. When projected upon, it captures light in a stunning way:

TEDactive aerogel installation

NASA uses aerogel to capture dust particles in space. These particles vaporize on impact with solids and pass through gases, however can be trapped within the aerogel. Our installation dealt with this notion of capturing that which difficult to hold or grasp. As the conference progressed, the ideas that were raised and discussed during the talks were captured and projected on the aerogel pieces. At different times, a variety of topic would be projected within the aerogel pieces. When left by itself, the projections morphed between movement and colors. But as a person would move their hands in front of the installation, some of the most recent messages posted on Twitter about TED or TEDActive would explode within the projected space.

Here’s a video demonstrating the material’s amazing capability to capture light:

Here’s another video showing Dan interacting with the piece:

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