No. 79

Sunny Side Up

By : aatb

Entrant’s location : Switzerland



Sunny Side Up, a robotic sun developed by studio AATB, proposes a contemporary take on the archaic typology of the sundial. This interactive object embodies the movement of the Sun in real time as the Earth orbits around it. From sunrise to high noon and sunset, Sunny Side Up brings the movement of this celestial body close to the viewer. The robotic sun orbits around a metal rod, casting a shadow and allowing the measurement of time, as well as the viewer’s reconnection with celestial events. In the age of Anthropocene, Sunny Side Up raises questions on our current disconnect from the planet and circadian rhythms. In a future where cities get more and more polluted, will our current disconnect from starlight and the night sky permeate to daylight and the sun’s position? Similarly, in a world where productivity and work cycles ignore natural rhythms, can this artificial sun serve as a timely reminder of when to start and when to stop? This man-made sun also raises awareness on the artificial construction of nature and the technological quest to harness it throughout time. The project was first shown during Milan Design Week 2018, and shown at the Ars Electronica 2019 exhibition: Human Limitations – Limited Humanity. Sunny Side Up is one of the first commissions of studio AATB, which investigates the potential of robotics to exist outside of the realm of factory floors, operating at the intersection of art, design and technology. The Zurich and Marseille-based studio was founded by Andrea Anner and Thibault Brevet in 2018.

What did you create?

Sunny Side Up by AATB proposes a contemporary update to the ancient sundial. A robotic Sun points at a metal rod while orbiting around it, casting a shadow. The installation allows the observer to experience the Sun's movement and presence along the day, from sunrise to sunset.

Why did you make it?

Sunny Side Up stems from our ongoing researches, dealing with the commodification of robotics and automation technologies. Through sensible and empathetic devices and installations we explore what still defines the unique qualities of Human experience, as science and technologies unmask our physical understanding of Human nature.The starting point of Sunny Side Up was the japanese Wadokei clock, functionning with a seasonal time system, opposed to a fixed time system. The Wadokei's hours changed duration along the year, so an hour can be shorter or longer in Summer or Winter. Similarly Sunny Side Up reproduces this experience of the passage of time, with the artificial Sun moving in the same fashion since its position is mapped in realtime, as the Earth orbits around it along the year. Sunny Side Up wants to be a calm, quiet object that embodies our detachment from Nature, and produces a new synthetic experience of Nature. If I do not see the Sun, but still experience its presence, can it be a small step towards reconnecting with Nature?

How did you make it?

Sunny Side Up is a sun dial based on a Universal Robots UR10 robotic arm. It is programmed to orbit from one side to another of an aluminum rod, while maintaining constant distance and direction to it. The program controls the high-power LED, via a 10V analog output signal from the robot controller. This allows to fade in and out the light during sunrise and sunset sequences.A custom Arduino-based interface board was developed to monitor the 10V analog signal and control the brightness of the LED by PWM-ing the LED driver via a mosfet. A CNC-machined aluminum heatsink, directly bolting to the UR10 tool flange, keeps the LED cool. The whole assembly is mounted to the wall with a machined aluminum plate, it shines light on a lathe-turned and polished aluminum rod, threaded to bolt into the wall.The orbit plane angle is matched to the installation site’s geographic latitude so that the trajectory and shadow cast by the light are physically-correct.