Studio Drift | EGO

In collaboration with studio Drift and Naivi I developed their new installation ‘Ego‘. This sculpture made of 10 miles of ultra fine, hand-woven nylon for the Dutch National Opera’s production of L’Orfeo can take on many shapes, forms and sizes.

Together with Naivi I developed the software that enabled Drift to program and control the 8 motors with ultra fine precision in real-time using NAP Framework. The installation interacts with the performers on stage and changes shape constantly to represent the inner world of the characters. Sometimes it appears solid, other times fluid as water. A ‘puppeteer’ programmed the individual scenes in collaboration with the director during rehearsals and controls the sculpture in realtime during the show.

Naivi used Ethercat (ethernet for control automation technology) to ensure smooth communication at high frequency with each individual motor. This technology, which is relatively new and used primarily in industrial automation, provided us with the precision and feedback this installation requires.

The application is completely threaded and runs on a tiny Intel NUC. The main thread handles rendering and user input, the other threads sequence playback and motor communication. The same application can be deployed headless (without rendering) if required for future installments. A custom sequence editor gives the ‘puppeteer’ full control over every single motor and the Ego algorithm in general. The opera sold out immediately. During the Armory Show in New York in March, the Pace Gallery will present a slightly smaller version of the sculpture.