Flowers in the EMC

Written by: Carly Freeman ’20

I am the Graphic Designer and Installation Artist here at the Emergent Media Center (EMC). I’ve created a lot of fun projects throughout my year at the EMC, but the one that represents the spirit of the EMC most is the Flower Mobile Sculpture. This project has been a great representation of the Emergent Media Center because of the iterative process we use to innovate with. 

The project began in the Fall of 2019 with an idea that transferred into a sketch.

Starting as a wavy “field of flowers” that I thought I would create out of old tech materials (computers, keyboards, circuit boards, etc.) and my favorite material to work with: laser cut acrylic. The sketch went from paper to a small prototype made of paper clips, pipe cleaners, foam, and clay.

All of which I got from our handy dandy EMC materials cart, specifically provided to create prototypes of any and all ideas. 

As I discussed the idea of creating this field of hard and soft flowers across the ceiling of the EMC, my advisor Jen Adrian gave me some tips and helped me to narrow down and iterate further. After choosing and buying the materials, I was off to the laser cutter. I cut out about 200 acrylic circles, which would hold the metal pieces of “recycled tech junk” on them. 

Next, I went to ReSource to acquire the “junk”, and found a box full of old film slide holders. They were perfect. Just the kind of metal I was looking for, very easy to bend and a variety of shiny and matte. The whole box was only $10 too.

I began to mess around with the organic ways the metal would bend to create some flower petal like shapes which I hot glued onto the acrylic. It was cool, but not shiny enough. I found some old CDs that weren’t being used and cut them up to create pieces that would reflect light inside the flower and on the back of the acrylic.

And yet, still not enough sparkle and color, so I added some of the left over tiny pieces of acrylic and glued those to the center with some blue beads to mimic the intricacies of actual flowers. 

In the middle of the process, I went home for spring break, and

Fortunately, I was able to bring all my materials to my house where I went on slowly creating the 200 flowers on my living room table. I had to adapt, but that is what we do here at the EMC. Also, I reimagined my idea of a field of flowers to three chandelier type shapes, it was a much easier way to keep the project small in my house and condense the project to something more practical. I had a lot of fun over these many months of quarantine adding to and cutting the sculpture and seeing it come to life in the midst of a pandemic. 

Left: Carly hangs the mobile. Right: The final piece