Project's Summary

Breaking Wave is a captivating anamorphic kinetic sculpture that graces the new headquarters of Biogen-Idec in Cambridge, MA. This remarkable piece of art is more than just an aesthetic delight; it tells a story about the quest for patterns and the unexpected outcomes that arise from changing our perspective. The sculpture consists of 804 suspended spheres, which move in a mesmerizing wave-like formation. As the wave reaches its peak and crashes, the balls momentarily hover in a cloud, creating a scene of pure chaos when viewed from most angles. However, there are two hidden spots within the room that offer a different viewpoint, revealing a hidden pattern amidst the apparent disorder.

Stepping into one of these hidden spots, viewers are treated to a thought-provoking display. In the first spot, a labyrinth hints at the search for knowledge, symbolizing the intricate paths scientists navigate while exploring experimental data to develop new drugs for diseases like multiple sclerosis and cancer. The second spot showcases a Fibonacci spiral-inspired flower, reminding us of the natural order and patterns found in nature. These contrasting perspectives highlight the importance of adopting different vantage points when seeking solutions or understanding complex phenomena.

The mechanism responsible for the sculpture's enchanting motion lies above it. A motor drives a large rotating stainless steel cam, which guides 36 rollers tracing the overall waveform. Each roller moves along a linear track, connected to a cable that spins one of the 36 output shafts. These shafts feature drums of various sizes, from which the wooden spheres are suspended. As the shafts rotate, the drums pull the balls up and down, with larger drums exerting a greater force. This mechanical orchestration allows the size of the drums to program the images hidden within the cloud of balls, creating a dynamic and ever-changing visual experience.

The creation of Breaking Wave involved a meticulous design process that combined traditional tools like pencil and paper with modern digital techniques. The concept was initially conceived using Processing, a programming language for visual arts. The structure was meticulously designed using Solidworks, a leading 3D modeling software. Bringing this ambitious project to life required the dedicated efforts of many individuals and miles of wire rope.

Breaking Wave serves as a symbolic representation of the scientific pursuit of patterns and the remarkable discoveries that arise from altering our perspective. By understanding the hidden dynamics within the body, scientists can leverage billions of experimental data points to craft effective drugs for treating various diseases. This awe-inspiring sculpture not only adds a touch of artistic elegance to Biogen-Idec's new headquarters but also serves as a powerful reminder of the intricate interplay between chaos and order in our quest for knowledge.

Project's associated companies