Twelve shimmering metal shafts rise at surprising angles from a grassy hill. They hang over the landscape, creating a graceful curve that appears to unfold for passing motorists. The shafts are part of Solar Collector, a sculpture created by artists Matt Gorbet, Rob Gorbet, and Susan LK Gorbet as a commission for the Region of Waterloo. Set in front of the Regional Operations Centre in Cambridge, Ontario, the sculpture is solar-powered and interactive, inviting the community to choreograph its nightly performance via the web.
Each shaft has three sets of lights, along with three solar panels. Their angles reflect the angles of the sun through the year. The tallest shaft is perpendicular to the sun at winter solstice, when the sun is low in the sky. The flattest shaft faces the high sun at summer solstice. During the day, the solar panels collect the sun’s energy in a battery within each shaft. At the same time, the Solar Collector website collects light compositions – patterns in light that are created by the community through a simple web interface.
The light patterns are based on sine waves – the mathematics behind sunlight and the seasons. Each night at dusk, a performance begins of all the compositions collected that day. After the day’s patterns are displayed, the performance moves on to a series of global patterns composed collaboratively from all the patterns ever created. The total length of the performance is a reflection of the weather and the seasons, as the shafts use up their energy and fade out late in the evening, one by one.