Aiko Nakano | Selected Works, 2016

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// Coding to make the real world a little less real Aiko Nakano |

Diffusion Choir Kinetic sculpture celebrating collaboration of starling murmuration Languages


Diffusion Choir is an origami-inspired kinetic sculpture that celebrates the nature of collaboration at biopharma research firm Shire. Housed in the atrium, the four hundred elements can independently open and close then coalesce into the synchronized movements of an invisible flock of birds. Each origami piece is activated by the custom flocking algorithm that continuously evolves to choreograph different flocking patterns every fifteen minutes. At the top of each hour, all virtual starlings come together to form a single gesture across the sculpture. This artwork is permanently installed at 650 East Kendall Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was created in partnership with Plebian Design and Hypersonic. My role

I was one of the three programmers on this project at Sosolimited who developed the bird flocking simulation based on Reynolds’ boids model for flocking behavior. In addition, I worked with our hardware collaborators at Hypersonic to develop the hardware control software that open and close the origami pieces based on the position, velocity, and acceleration of the flocking simulation. Media Coverage

WIRED Mashable Rockets are Cool Creative Boom The Creators Project

Aiko Nakano |

Each of the four hundred elements can be independently controlled by our custom software. The origami pieces are 2 feet wide when opened and allows for 120 degrees range of motion to express the dynamic and liquid movements of starling murmuration.  Making-of video available at

Diffusion Choir | For Sosolimited

Aiko Nakano |

The flocking algorithm choreographs moves that fully utilize the threedimensional canvas such as figure eight, zigzag, and ascension. The nature of the simulation is self-evolving and ephemeral. Our design challenge was developing the movement of the starlings that is both expressive and fast enough to be realistic, while ensuring that we are not overusing the motors.

Diffusion Choir | For Sosolimited

Aiko Nakano |

 Video available at

Diffusion Choir | For Sosolimited

digiPop Interactive art installation connecting the physical and digital spaces with sound Languages

C# in .NET

digiPop is an interactive art installation that seamlessly connects the physical and digital spaces. The concept is to blow virtual bubbles into the digital canvas and is inspired by Mark Weiser’s vision of a new paradigm for humancomputer interaction where technologies “weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”. The bubbles straddle the physical and digital worlds with sound as the mediator between the two spaces. The gameplay follows the way children play with bubbles. Through a built-in microphone, people can blow differently shaped virtual bubbles into the digital canvas based on the frequency of their voice while also interacting with them through body gestures captured by a camera. Each digiPop bubble remembers the sound frequency used to create it that is then played back as it moves across the screen. A high A note (440 Hz) is played when bubbles collide into each other while a pop sound plays when a bubble bursts. These sounds create a feedback loop into the bubble formation, accompanying the player’s voice for a unique concerto. Exhibitions + Awards

Mpls Center for Digital Art, Inter:Connected Exhibit | 2016 MIT Museum (Shortlisted) | 2015 Advised by Panagiotis Michalatos

The velocity and shape of the bubbles as well as the rate at which they are created depend on the volume (i.e. pressure) and the peak sound frequency at which they are blown. For example, blowing into the microphone creates high pressure, allowing players to create many bubbles quickly.  Video available at

Aiko Nakano |

The interaction borrows from the way children play with bubbles.

Sound is the mediator between the physical and digital spaces.

Taxonomy of digiPop bubbles

digiPop | GSD 6338 Computational Design

Once the bubbles are in the virtual space, players can interact with them through body gestures. They can combine them into bigger bubbles, pop other players’ bubbles, maneuver bubbles around obstacles, all by using any kinesthetic interactions imaginable. Although existing in virtual space, these bubbles loosely follow the laws of conservation of mass and momentum to signify their connection to the physical world. Digital computation is used to allow for augmented interaction with bubbles that cannot be otherwise accomplished in our physical space.

Aiko Nakano |

digiPop | GSD 6338 Computational Design

Swing Time Public art playscape with self-sustaining lights Languages

C# in Rhinoceros / Grasshopper

With Höweler and Yoon Architecture, I designed the second season of Swing Time for the city of Boston. It is a “play-scape” installation with a set of over-sized swings encouraging play for people of all ages. The theme for the second year is the integration of science and art. The canopy weaves the photovoltaic panels into the fabrics of the diamond grid system established by the structural frame. The photovoltaic panels power the lights inside the swings at night. The brightness and color of the illumination are proportional to the force people used to move the swings. The hope is for visitors to become more conscious of sustainability through design and their interaction with it. My role

I developed the concepts and designed the form of the canopy with the project architect and spec’d out the photovoltaic panels to power the swing set. Exhibition

Lawn on D, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority | 2015

Aiko Nakano |

For Hรถweler and Yoon Architecture

Aiko Nakano |

18˚ [tilt angle of 72˚] optimal for the summertime in Boston


A single PV pod can power one small swing or a third of the large swing for three cloudy days when fully charged. For Höweler and Yoon Architecture

LightPost Pixel greeting canvases for long-distance relationships Languages

HTML, CSS, JavaScript

LightPost artistically connects Sosolimited’s two studios in Boston and San Diego. People can send gifs, drawings, webcam selfies of themselves, or JavaScript animations to an abstracted canvas of 100 x 150 pixels to either studio. The web server sends JSON packets to Raspberry Pi, which is our DMX controller. My role

I was one of the programmers on this project at Sosolimited and worked on the gif component with adjustable playback speed and brightness levels so as not to blind people facing the LightPost.

Aiko Nakano |

A moment of my trip sent as a series of spritesheets to the gif mode

Drawing mode

For Sosolimited

Kinetic pavilion + sculpture

Bloom is a childhood fort for adults that transforms from a seemingly rigid sculpture into a semi-private space within the public environment. Motivated by our desire to create a playful object for children and adults alike, we created an interactive human-scale toy based on Chuck Hoberman’s wheel. Our interactive pavilion blooms open like a budding tulip from plan view and can be operated by a single visitor. The wooden construction achieves a toy-like appearance as well as an organic texture that resonates with the foliage and nature at the site. The contrasting laced awning provides visual privacy and creates a hideaway where friends and families can share intimate moments with one another. My Role

I was responsible for integrating the structural engineering concepts with aesthetics with the architects on the team. The smooth rotation is realized by the hollow and lightweight construction of linkages, which are supported by the solid top and bottom structures coupled with the robust joint assemblies. Each component took several iterations to achieve the clean and organic appearance. Exhibitions + Awards

Awarded MIT Art Council Grant | 2014 Published in GSD Platform 7 | 2014 Featured in designboom | 2015 Won competition for Harvard Yard Art Festival | 2014 With Ling-Li Tseng, Wendy Engler, Fernando RodrĂ­guez Advised by Chuck Hoberman

While the linkages are lightweight, the top and bottom supports need to be structurally robust to support these linkages’ weight as well as to ensure that their joint positions are maintained for smooth rotation. Solid 1.5 inch plywood arms are press-fitted and bolted to the disk, so that the Bloom does not require extra braces. This emphasizes the vertical continuity of the linkages.  Fabrication and assembly video available at aikonakano/bloom-fabrication




Bloom | GSD 6476 Transformable Design Methods

Transformation from sculpture to pavilion.  Video available at

Aiko Nakano |

Bloom | GSD 6476 Transformable Design Methods

Aiko Nakano |

Bloom | GSD 6476 Transformable Design Methods

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