Medium Matters




            Cambridge, MA


            Optical Device; Wearable; Course Instructor Allen Sayegh


            Sep 15- Dec 15, 2017, Storrs Hall Lobby, UNCC

This project attempts to construct awareness of the existence of air, the unseen medium filling up spaces between our eyes and the visible forms of the built environment. By implementing means and methods to visualize it as a dynamic layer being seen through in front of naked human eyes, this project inquires the physical and mental reactions of seeing this otherwise unperceivable medium during daily activities. This research focuses on the action of seeing rather than the visualization of the flow as a fact to observe and to measure. It assumes that visually recognizing the built environment as a volume instead of a void space with surface boundaries have impacts on our body sensorium as an ensemble.

Perceptually measuring the interaction between human behavior and air movements, this apparatus utilizes a pair of scaled-down version of Schlieren imaging setups. Composed of small parabolic mirrors and LED light sources, it is precisely designed and assembled based on optical principles of making visible the light ray deviations (or wavefront deformations) due to the refractive index heterogeneities in a transparent medium. Designed to be a mobilized instrument that allows the visual impacts to interact with one’s own movements, it measures two feet in length, ten inches wide, and a foot and half tall. With components interfacing with human body on the head and chest, one could wear it around as a pair of large glasses.

As the a number of light rays being bent before received by each eye, curvatures of airflow—originally generated by temperature difference and transformed by subtle movements— appear in a great range of forms constantly morphing at a high rate even if one is moving very slowly.


Catty Dan Zhang | 2019