Saturday, January 22, 2011

Initial Ideas

Birds. My first subject was the peacock and how its tail (train) fans outward from a stack of long feathers piled on atop the other. Moving away from this, and looking at another body part, a discussion of nictitating membranes pushed the design away from such a radial formation. This membrane is an extra 'layer', if you will, that some animals have to protect and moisturize the eye. I immediately thought of a photo (above) that I had seen recently at the World Press Photo 2010 exhibit (in the Brookfield Place, of all places). Using the membranes as a starting point for biomimicry, there is now a functional component tied to my idea of 'layers' (the membrane plus the eyelids). Both are used to protect the eyes: the membrane is drawn linearly across the eye whilst the upper and lower eyelids meet when you blink...

Specific examples of activated membranes include birds feeding their newborn - sharp new beaks that are poking in every direction - as well as the use of the membrane for vision underwater (like the photo of the hunting kingfisher). Polar bears have transparent nictitating membranes to protect from snow blindness. In windy conditions, the membrane keeps the eyes moist. I could continue...

As for the application of this 'feature' in my project, there is definitely potential to use this idea of protection in other ways. On my mind right now are shading devices (or some kind of light filtration) and/or privacy screens. I was initially thinking of a museum lighting device, but then ran into the problem of designing the museum which is not in the scope of the project. The next idea that came about was changerooms/stalls on a beach. Anyone have other thoughts?

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