Displuvium – Simulating natural and rigged meteorological phenomena

Created by Fragmentin, ‘Displuvium‘ is an artistic research that examines the human desire to control our natural environment, particularly meteorological phenomena.

The installation, developed with Designer Renaud Defrancesco, takes the form of a pool filled with water and placed directly on the ground. On the water surface, the visitor can observe rainfall: water drops are generated by tiny underwater nozzles. Two screens attached to a nearby wall display a map of historical events related to rainfall episodes; sometimes of natural origin, sometimes tampered by humans. These non-linear sequences of variable length, provide the narrative framework of this installation. When controlled meteorological events are represented, drops are organised into recognisable patterns. The artificial hence replaces the natural and randomness is suppressed through control.

“Displuvium’s shape and materials are linked to the role of fountains and water basins throughout history. In Ancient Rome for instance, wealthy households enclosed an atrium: a semi-covered central room, typically surrounded by porticoes. An opening in the roof lit the house and allowed rainwater to flow into a basin known as the displuvium. For the servants who worked in these houses, the displuvium was a window on an outside world that they were not free to explore. Additionally, occupants could apprise themselves of the weather by monitoring the water surface for raindrops. The displuvium was thus an everyday source of distraction and information, not unlike the digital screens of today. In addition, the Latin prefix dis- evokes separation, an anomaly or a malfunction. A reference to rigged meteorological phenomena.”

Displuvium‘ aims to demonstrate the link between humans and nature. It illustrates the ease with which it is now possible to reproduce natural phenomena, thanks to technological breakthroughs. However, this installation also reveals the limits of our control over the environment: the failures which dot the sequence remind us that some things are patently beyond our control.

The installation is using a series of custom made PCBs, Arduino Mega, water pumps and power supplies. For the control, Processing is used on the two screens linked to the Atrium and Arduino both running on a Macmini.

Project Page | Fragmentin

Project was supported by City of Lausanne, City of Renens & le Canton de Vaud.

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