Far Away, a kinetic and lighting journey by Chevalvert

Far Away’ looks like a space exploration scene, materialized by 12 Sentinels in rotation, scanning the ground for a sign, a movement, a resource. These Sentinels, half scanners, half gyroscopes, activate under our eyes, in a cyclic ballet, minimal and mesmerizing. What are these sentinels looking for? How do they communicate? What are they sensitive to? The passage of the public under these objects seems to disturb their exploratory functions…

“Halfway between a scientific study and a poetic choreography, the installation Far Away refers to the condition and isolation of exploration robots (like Perseverance on Mars). This latest creation by Chevalvert is interested in the conditions of transmitting a message in space, in human-machine interactions in the nighttime public space.”

Interactions and principle of the kinetic system

Far Away is this set of Sentinels, which compose a luminous and reactive network. Each entity is in perpetual rotation, they have the capacity to interact, between themselves or with the public, via a double sensor system located at the end of each rotating arm. The resulting kinetic and sound ballet materializes all the interactions of the system.

“The resulting kinetic and sound ballet materializes all the interactions of the system.”

When the Sentinels are rotating without interaction, the LED on the rotating arms remains red. This is the “search” mode. But as soon as the sensors located at the end of each arm meet an object (another Sentinel ntry arm or a person), the “detection” mode starts: the Led band turns white, the rotation speed accelerates and the Sentinel emits a sound signal.

« Phantom behavior emerges, when from near to far, sentinels cascade and create an inter-sentinel event. »

Online simulator

Online simulator allowing to visualize the complete system (triggers and audience interaction are simulated at mouse click) : https://chevalvert.github.io/faraway-sketch/

Spatial layout

Far Away can be installed on different types of soil (sand, grass, mineral), it is nevertheless necessary to have a relatively homogeneous leveling of the ground to facilitate the installation of the installation.

The 12 sentinels can be divided into different groups or all together. The only constraint is to have a free space around the sentinel, with a radius of 280 cm.

A Sentinel must be located at a maximum of 460 cm from another Sentinel and at a minimum of 270 cm.

Example of spacial layout (in Metz, France)

The number and arrangement of the modules (Sentinels) can be completely adapted to the place of presentation. The reflection on the scenography of the modules can be done specifically according to the place. (It is also possible to imagine an indoor version.)

For Metz, for example, we were able to adapt the scenography to the geometry of the place (a garden in “point” surrounded by two arms of the Moselle). The principle was based on the creation of 3 groups, each less numerous as they progressed towards the point.

Technical Documentation

As far as the technical aspect is concerned, the visual richness is actually the result of a rather minimalist internal device, since each Sentinel lives independently, with a few components:

Detection/Scanning: an infrared sensor above and below each arm end (of the “Lidar” type, as on the latest iPhone 12 Pro, which are also used in the space industry, as they are able to map an environment in three dimensions)

Materialization of the reaction: an LED strip placed under each rotating arm (red asleep, white after an interaction), a sound note.

Brain: microcontroller (electronic board)

Body of each unit: a heavy base (Global Truss type) for the stability of the foot and its rotating arm. Everything was made from calculation notes to ensure resistance to centrifugal force, in particular.

About Chevalvert

Created in 2007, Chevalvert is a visual design studio based in Paris. The singularity of the studio is characterized by its object-oriented, systemic relationship to the image, where the process counts as much as the result. The studio’s productions range from graphic design, interaction, publishing, video and spatial and interactive installations. Awarded several times in Europe, their installations also travel in many countries. More projects: chevalvert.fr/installation


This work was presented as part of the Constellations festival in Metz 2021.
Creation : Chevalvert
Original creation : Festival Constellation 2021 – METZ
curator: Jeremie Bellot
Technical development and fabrication: Hémisphère, Chevalvert
Music: Romain Garcia
Diffusion : Mirage Prod

Previous installations – Vimeo