The Gravitator is a hanging installation consisting of flip-dot boards that simulate a rolling
ball's movement on a flat horizontal surface.
communication award for technology and design
Flip-dots are electromechanical displays that can flip between two
states, represented by the colors black and yellow. For the Gravitator, I used the bistable
displays, which were still used a few years ago as panels on trains and buses, to simulate the
movement of a rolling ball. All elements of the installation are built into a box, connected to each
other, and attached to the ceiling with elastic ropes.
Coding with Arduino
The accelerometer measures the inclination of the box and sends the
data to the Arduino. In a real-time calculation, the Arduino computes an acceleration based on
gravitation and physics and transmits it to the flip-dots. Switching on and off the flip dots in a
row creates the effect of movement.
Features & Functions
The Gravitator has two rotary knobs on its side to change physical
parameters. The first one determines the size of the ball, and the second one can influence the
gravitation that acts on the ball. It is possible to change this parameter within a range of the
earth's (9.8 m/s) and moon's gravity (1,6 m/s).
Experiencing the Gravitator
The human eye can follow the building process and movement of the
flip-dots due to the limited performance of the flip-dot control unit. The volume increases, and the
background noise gains a rhythmic undertone. The regularity of visual and auditory impressions
evokes a feeling of focus, calmness, and eternity. It keeps the player under its spell due to the
simple, yet unlimited, extensible interaction options. The Gravitator is more than an interactive
installation. It is an instrument for playing audiovisual pieces. You determine the pace and the
intensity of the constant, but versatile click sounds — a technically simple, yet fascinating