I thought I’d post some of the things I came across while doing research for our final project.
We were talking about trying to get away from the solar panel because it is a rigid, and perhaps limiting thing. I began researching photovoltaic fabrics, films, mini-panels and other things that we could use without them having too much influence over the form of our final product. Solar fabrics are unfortunately not available for purchase yet, as far as I know, but the principles could be applied using films or smaller solar cells. The fabric idea is very interesting to me because applications for the technology have not been explored much beyond ties, tents, and umbrellas, though the tent I have linked above is pretty interesting. It gathers energy throughout the day and provides these charging pocket-like things to charge your camera, phone, etc. At night, you can find your tent by sending it an SMS to make it glow. Pretty neat, but maybe not exactly where we’ve been going with this project. Another picture above is of a sculpture-like solar energy collector that uses flexible photovoltaic materials. Maybe this is closer to our ideal?
I also started looking at the history of heliotropism, which is where I came across the drawing above by Kircher. He imagined a clock controlled by the natural heliotropism of a sunflower. I found a blog that talks about heliotropism in art, which I found really interesting: http://www.humanflowerproject.com/index.php/weblog/comments/clytie_obsessive_heliotropic/. In many classical paintings, the subject looks toward the sun, and in La Metamorphose de Clytie by Jean-Francois de Troy, the story of Clytie’s obsession with the sun god Apollo takes heliotropism to an extreme. She finds that Apollo is with someone else, so Clytie tells the girl’s father, who in turn kills his daughter and buries her out of Apollo’s sight. Although Apollo detests Clytie after this, she continues to follow his every move across the sky. Creepy!
I also found out, perhaps late in the game, that there is a flower called a heliotrope. Go figure, I wonder what is does?