Mechatronic solutions provider Bonfiglioli is providing the technological support behind the ‘Geometry’ light display. This will emanate from the Watermans Gallery in London and, under clear conditions, will be visible to passengers flying into and out of Heathrow airport.

The display is a creation by the French artist Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves and marks the start of Watermans’ International Festival of Digital Art.

The work of six international artists will be showcased in a year long project that is designed to initiate debate around the impact of technology in art.

The Geometry light display is a kinetic installation driving two masts that cross – one vertically and one horizontally – on which mirrors are attached. The pre-programmed mirrors turn on a horizontal axis creating geometrical movement. The reflection of the sky in the mirrored blades and the movement of the sculpture itself create different kinetic effects according to the time of day and the season.

At nightfall the signal is reinforced through projections of laser light from the horizontal mast – these will be projected from the Watermans building onto the horizontal mast and reflected from the sky. The programming of the movement of the sculpture means that geometrical forms are created and reach into the sky to a height of more than 20m.

Bonfiglioli received initial contact concerning the project on December 13th 2011 due to its expertise in assisting with unusual applications, as well as its mechatronic approach and ability to supply all requirements from one source. By December 16th the project details and technical specification were confirmed, with the inauguration ceremony for the Festival booked for February 2nd.

In order to achieve the variety of mirror positions designated by the artist, a very precise positioning motor solution was required with a complex programme for the inverters. The installation utilised two shaft mounted helical gearboxes from the company’s F Series, driven by direct coupled brushless servomotors fitted with failsafe brakes. The drives are an external arrangement open to the elements so are protected to IP65.

Active Cube inverters, which control the drives, are located in a specially prepared cabinet. The inverters are easily capable of handling the complex programming sequence necessary to enable the numerous changes of rotational direction to give the desired effect. In addition, the drives had to be capable of achieving the 24 exact position co-ordinates required, as well as precisely controlling the eight desynchronisation points of the two reflectors.

The project was made possible with a grant from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund and is supported by the London Borough of Hounslow. Mayor Boris Johnson opened the installation, which runs until September.