Paper Windmills



The installation will consist of roughly 5-10 paper windmill poles standing at 2 metres tall. The pole will have at least 4 paper windmills attached to them. Each windmill will have a motor attached, this motor will begin to spin the windmills when the distance sensor is triggered by an audience member. The distance sensor and motors will be programmed and controlled by an Arduino.

Initial Project Designs


The concept behind Paper Windmills was to create a sense of curiosity and mystery by creating a gust of wind when there is no obvious source that could have produced it. I chose the object of paper windmills to allude to curiosity that we had as children and create a sense of nostalgia to an audience.


At the Museum of Contemporary Arts Sydney, I was particularly inspired by artist Wonbin Yang and his work Species Series (2012). In this particular work, Yang creates an ecosystem of insect-like robots that he imagines could thrive in a city of the future. His interest lies in the idea that contemporary cities are a ‘primordial soup’ capable of generating new forms of life. Made from urban waste and small mechanical parts, each robot has a distinctive set of behaviours and biological characteristics that give it a unique personality. Yang documents the life cycles of his robots in their ‘natural environment’, creating short videos, reminiscent of nature documentaries, that capture their struggles, triumphs and failures.

Yang’s robots made out of rubbish and abandoned objects that navigated themselves as if a wind was blowing the objects around were the main inspiration for my project. When I viewed the work at the MCA, I first thought that there was a fan attached to the installation that made the rubbish move, however after further inspection I realised that they were robots controlling the objects. Species Series sparked my curiosity and I wanted to replicate that same idea in my major work by creating an installation where objects would move when there is no source assisting.


Wonbin Yang: Species Series (2012)


In preparation for the prototype presentation, I created a scaled down version of what the paper windmills would look like. I created the paper models out of card paper so that they would have more stability once the motors are attached. I secured the paper to a wooden dowel rod with a hammered push stud. Although, I was unable to attach the motors and distance sensor to the prototype as I had not produced the coding yet to make it functional. This was an unfortunate disadvantage as I was unable to gage the success of audience interaction with the project and whether the sense of wonderment would come across.

After presenting my concept to the class and tutor, I received beneficial and crucial feedback, regardless that my project was currently not functional. My tutor suggested that I should position the poles in the centre of a room like a pathway, rather than having them positioned flat on a wall in order to engage an audience more. He also proposed that each paper windmill should have a seperate motor and be triggered separately, instead of having the whole pole of windmills be triggered at once. The class suggested that I possibly consider having the poles at varying heights to create more interest in the aesthetic aspect of the project. These suggestions have helped me further my artwork in terms of interaction, design, and aesthetics. I intend to incorporate all of these ideas into my final project as I believe that they will enhance the work’s concept and user engagement.

Arduino Controlling a Servo Motor with a Distance Sensor Example


As I was unable to present a functioning prototype I intend to source a motor, distance sensor, and Arduino to attach to the prototype in Week 11 to test the success rate of the project and to establish whether it is achievable. Hopefully in Week 11 when I test this, I will be able to view any adjustments or alterations needed and fix these immediately in order to produce the most reliable version of the final project.


WEEK 11: Attach motor, distance sensor, and Arduino to prototype. Create code and test success rate of project.

WEEK 12: Begin building the 5-10 paper windmill poles and attaching the motors to them.

WEEK 13: Have all windmill poles created and standing. Test code to ensure that it is reliable and successful. Gage the class interaction with the work.

STUDY WEEK: Ensure that all windmill poles are functional with the motors and are triggered by the distance sensor. Make any finishing aesthetic amendments.

EXAM WEEK 1: Final project completed and working successfully. Setup in Gallery space and ensure its stability.



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