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Designer, Andy Sheen
13th August 2017

Water: An interview with Andy Sheen

Powered entirely by the force of a waterfall, Andy Sheen’s Kinetic Light is a poetic exploration of the potential of renewable energy. At Water, a show where 13 designers will present their aquatic-themed products and experiments, the Nottingham-born, London-based multidisciplinary designer will show a film of the Kinetic Lights at work in a dramatic waterfall on Manchester moors alongside a mini version of the installation complete with cascades and spume. 
Audio Engineering
From X-rays to penicillin, sometimes the best inventions happen by mistake. Andy Sheen’s Kinetic Light, which will be on show at Peckham’s Copeland Gallery as part of LDF show Water, is one such accident. When working on a sound piece last year, the London-based multidisciplinary designer was using piezoelectric sensors with a field recorder to gather audio samples. Derived from the Greek word ‘piezein’, which means to press, piezoelectric materials generate an electrical charge when they are put under mechanical stress, squeezed in other words. “I discovered that when the sensors were hit with a force they would create signals outside of the audio signal level and were actually enough to generate an electrical pulse,” explains Andy. “I realised this could be used to flicker a light with varying intensity.” And so, the Kinetic Light was born.
Polyphonic Playground, Studio PSK
With a background in sound design and expertise in electronics and programming, Andy has a long history helping designers and artists behind the scenes to realise products and installations. He's currently working with Goldsmith’s Interaction Research Studio – also exhibiting at Water – and Hackney start-up Technology Will Save Us. Kinetic Light is one of the first projects he's created under his own name, an opportunity to push the boundaries of audio and technology and mixes his experience with his new creative ideas. 
In collaboration with a videographer, Andy’s film captures how the crashing energy of the waterfall can be harnessed to create a spectacular display. “The natural waterfall creates an interesting output from the lights,” he explains, “with variants in the water flow and current changing how the sensors generate light patterns.” Always with audio at the front of his mind, Andy will also use the sensors as microphones to record the rushing water, which will feed in sound design for the film. “I’m really interested in the concept of energy created from impact,” says Andy. “The light is a great demonstration of how energy-harvesting can be used to generate power without any external power source.”

Want to know more about other designers within the Water exhibition? Read our interviews with Fernando Laposse and Henrik Nieratschker or contact Dorothy (dorothy@zetteler.co.uk).

Visit Water at Copeland Gallery from 19 – 24 September. For more info visit www.waterexhibition.co.uk 

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