Synthesis explores the idea of synthetic biology, man made organismal systems that move of their own volition through human meaning matrices. The project draws from Theo Jansen's StrandBeests and Velimir Khlebnikov's concept of beyond-sense creation. Jansen's complex analog machines respond to their environment in ways that are both familiar and alien. The StrandBeests seem organismal in their motions and reactions, but operate as acts of creation. Like in Khlebnikov's writing, these being of creation exist in ways, which propose a reexamination of the role of form that is partially beyond human comprehension. Synthesis investigates the interplay between organic platonic geometry, reflected in archetypal formal modes, such as dodecahedral chickweed pollen grains and icosahedral viral structures, and the humanization of geodesics by Buckminster Fuller. It is meant to formulate the preliminary terms of a new language of unconscious intentioned systems that challenge anthropocentrism through their unique existence. Synthesis generates meaning intrinsic to its self-perpetuation, and does not seek to gain value from observation. It is an embryonic excursion into the development of self-animated structures, which are simultaneously transcendent of conscious observation and generated by consciousness. Synthesis hopes to tap into the beyond-sense ecosystems of integrated information theory, where conscious atoms dance in tapestries of silicone and bone as emergent perception. It envisions floating composite organisms comprised of genetically modified wetware and matter-manipulating hardware unified for no apparent reason.
Synthesis consists of a twenty-eight foot in diameter geodesic solar hot air balloon that is heated by solar radiation absorbed through its black envelope, producing lift. The balloon takes the shape of a tessellated dodecahedron, with its twelve pentagonal faces raised into pentagonal pyramids, such that the inner pyramidal edges are 9/10 the length of the outer pentagonal edges. The envelope is constructed of sixty black nine by ten foot isosceles triangles of Ripstop Nylon, sewn together with an airtight stitch. The envelope weighs 35 pounds. A hollow segmented carbon fiber strut supports a triangular carbon fiber vent at the top of the envelope. The base of this strut connects to a rigid panel at the bottom of the balloon, which houses a fan. The height of the balloon is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller that uses data from an altimeter to open and close the vent and turn the fan on and off. When the altimeter reads twenty feet, the vent opens and the fan engages, decreasing the internal temperature of the balloon causing it to descend. When the balloon reaches ten feet, the vent closes, and the balloon begins to rise. At the end of the flight, a radio controlled command is issued, opening the top vent and initiating the balloon’s final descent and deflation. Together, the two rigid panels, struts, circuitry, batteries, and motors weigh 10 pounds, making the total weight of the project approximately 45 pounds.