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Soleri, So Laser FAQ
What am I looking at, here?
This is laser art being projected onto the pylons holding up the Soleri Bridge.
Where was this, and when?
This is at the 2019 Canal Convergence Water+Art+Light festival, held every year in Scottsdale, Arizona. More info here: https://canalconvergence.com.
The festival ran from Nov 8 - 17th, 2019.
Where did this bridge come from?
The bridge was designed by famed architect Paolo Soleri. More info here: https://scottsdalepublicart.org/work/soleri-bridge-and-plaza/
I thought lasers were all beams and points of light.
This is a special kind of laser light: lasers are shined through rotating diffractive elements (disks and tubes of textured glass), which produce the wispy effect seen here. This is called Lumia.
Aren’t lasers dangerous?
Not the way we do it: the dangerous part is when an unfiltered laser beam hits your eyes. Here there are no focused beams. The lasers emitted by our solid-state lasers are not pinpoints; they are spread out. The laser light passes through several rotating disks that diffuse and modulate the energy so they are safe to view and fill the area on the pylons, safely well above eye level. All the laser light terminated on the pylons. There is an emergency-stop system present to enable the operators to instantly kill the lasers if there is a problem.
How many lasers are involved?
There are six lumia projectors (called “Lumiators”) involved: three on each pylon. Each truss-mounted set consists of a red, green, and blue laser.
Who made this?
Laser artist Mike Gould, with his crack team of experts in electronics, mechanics, and electro-optics. Mike and his team traveled here from Michigan to present this.
Who did what?
Mike Gould thought all this up. He designed everything except the electronics. He also built the lasers, machined the aluminum housings, wrote all the copy, designed and built the web site, and photographed everything.
Wayne Gillis designed the electronic front end: the E-stop system, cabling, and lunchbox circuitry for the control units.
Karl Rothweiler of Laser Wizardry was our local Laser Safety Officer and production guy. He arranged for the trusses, set them up, and made it all work.
Zita Gillis assisted in the planning, setup and running of the installation.
Steve Rich handled all the legal and contract issues.
Tom Bray helped with running the show and made numerous suggestions for improvements.
Bill Witcher machined some of the parts in the Lumiators.
Mike’s sister Patti and her husband, Dave Saathoff, housed Mike during the event, and provided much-needed transportation.
Mike’s very patient wife Salli Christenson did her level best to keep him fed and sane during the long development process.
How long did it take to build?
The process started in February of 2019, when Mike wrote the first proposal.
The piece was erected on November 5, 2018, so around 8 months total development time.
It took around 4 hours to assemble on site. We tore it down in 45 minutes.