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Making Waves

Technical Press Release

Art pushes Fibre Optic technology into the next millennium with the largest side emission fibre optic installation in Europe

Conceived and designed by artist Ray Smith, "Making Waves" comprises 26 multicoloured spans of wave forms which flow through the four main shopping streets of Teignmouth in South Devon.

The fibre optic waves use 1100m of 16mm SV 126 side-glow fibre optical cable (with outer PVC jacket), clear mylar tape layer, 126 strands of 0.75mm PMMA fibre optics in 9 sub bundles of 14 strands around a reflective core of aluminium mylar with rubber centre core, attached to a fine catenary wire structure above and across three roads. These 22 spans are lit by 44 wall-mounted light sources modified with Osram Powerstar HQI-R (150 watt) metal halidelamps, giving 9000 hours average life, incorporating Lee filter colour wheels, all contained within a GRP weatherproof box.

"This is the largest side-glow project in Europe," says GaryArmitage, Director of Newlink UK Ltd, which supplied "Making Waves" with the fibre optic technology. "Popular in the US, it's just starting to be seen in the UK. It's the future as far as lighting is concerned, with little maintenance, no bulbs to put in, cheap, user-friendly and green clean."

In the fourth set, on the street leading to the promenade with its traditional seafront bulb lighting, the set of four spans incorporates the new Flo-lite motion Non-neon light. There is a total of 2 1 Om of coloured static Non-neon and 70m of kinetic Flo-lite, all of a 60 volt system incorporating 0.45 watt halogen lamps, with up to 7000 lamps in the display which are supported on polyester colour-coated aluminium structures.

"Flo-lite is a continuous flow of light not used in Europe before but popular in the Far East, " says Reinhard Stille, Director of Gala Lights Ltd, which provided the Non-neon lighting system. We were given highly specific requirements in this project and I think it looks great - quite stunning."

"The technical challenge was to realise Ray Smith's very clear concept for the work," says Nick Grech-Cini, Principal Building Surveyor, Teignbridge District Council. "At first I wondered if it was technically possible."

The preliminary work involved illuminating visits to Blackpool and informal discussions about the kind of lighting that might be appropriate for the work. This was followed by a period of research which led to the installation of the prototype spans.

These were:

A display with six strands of mains voltage static Non-neon system that produced a shimmering effect.

A display with a top Flo-lite Non-neon and two lower strands of static. The top strand of Flo-lite has a gentle motion across the display.

A display utilising three strands of fibre optical side glow cable with subtle colour changes from the colour wheels within the light source.

The 3mm diameter stainless steel lightweight catenary wires, which support the fibre optical illuminated displays, is based on a musical stave. The intention to reduce daytime visibility was successfully achieved using this approach. Stainless steel was chosen because of its longevity.

Southern Electricity Contracting (SEC) completed the £220,000 project to install both lighting systems. A team of electricians from SEC's office in Ashburton, near Plymouth, began the installation work on the display in January, completing the project at the end of March, 1999.

Kevin Grimshaw, SEC Contracts Manager, comments "Safety was a primary consideration during the contract, as the work was carried out in a pedestrianised area. To avoid unnecessary diesel fumes, we used battery-operated hoists to gain access to display positions."

Initially, SEC was only commissioned to install the electrical infrastructure for each of the 'waves'. However, in the course of the project, the company was also asked to fit the catenary wires in position.

The display will be used up to 2000 hours per annum from May through to November and during the Christmas and Easter holidays.The fibre optic system uses 15.4kw/hr and the Non-neon 3.15kw/hr. Switch-on time is at dusk and switch-off at approximately 11pm.

Photography: 35mm and Medium format colour slides and digital imagery available contact Diana Dicker 01626-770827.

For more information: contact Nick Grech-Cini on 01626361101. This is a Teignmouth Town Council project, supported by Teignbridge District Council and the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England.