Fake tiled floor
Venetian streets are typically covered with big rectangular tiles of stone from Istria called “masegni”, present also on the floor of the Rialto fish market. Building a fake Venetian floor is one part of the prototype of Aequilibrium to give a better idea of the mood of the installation.
The floor was build to put a dozen of pressure sensors (switchers) under some tiles, so the dimensions of the sensors “decided” the tiles’ sizes.
Buy two big wood panels (our were 252 cm x 180 cm) thick 1 cm (that will be the base) and 0.5 cm (that will be cut to build the tiles).
Paint the base with black watercolor (also the sides, so it’s more neat) and prepare a scheme to cut the tiles. The sensors dimensions were 20 cm x 20 cm circa, so the tiles were 30 cm - 47 cm long and 31 cm - 25 cm wide.
As you can guess, real stone tiles have different dimensions: so we made 3 different heights (25 cm, 30 cm, 31.5 cm) and 4 widths (30 cm, 35 cm, 40 cm, 47 cm) to have tiles with several dimensions and have then a not-so-regular arrangement of tiles on the floor, like a real floor! Pay attention to draw a scheme in advance of how you will arrange the tiles on the floor (in a not symmetrical way) and write the sizes of each tile on its back every time… then it will be difficult to distinguish them. Tiles’ edges aren’t perfectly straight: file the edges and damage them randomly to give a rough aspect.
Buy pigments of the colors you need (in this case: dark brown, brown, black).
Mix just a bit of pigment dust + a bit of water + mortar and stir until it becomes not-so-solid but not liquid anymore. Using a large flat brush put this mix on each tile and pat down the tiles leaving the color mix over it. Don’t paint this too smoothly: it is important to leave a good texture.
When the color begins to dry scrape it with a large spatula to make the tiles flat.
Once the tiles are completely dried paint a light layer of fixative diluted with water (where a bit of pigment can be added to correct the color). When it’s drying, polish the tiles with the spatula. When completely dry, the more you polish the more you give a bright “metallic” effect to the color. The irregular texture of the tiles will do the rest.
Buy pressure sensors like these. One it’s pretty big so we cut each sensor to obtain 3 switches.
Take a sensor, cut it into 3 parts, open the plastic envelope to be able to manage the components inside easily.
Recreate the basic circuit in each new switch. Wires and tapes are enough. Check if each circuit works with a tester. Then close the new switches being sure the aluminum foils will not touch.
We connected each sensor with Wiring. Wiring website gives this diagram:
Add a resistor in one of the two wires of each sensor. Once not warm, cover each resistor with a plastic case.
Then all the wires have to be prepared to be linked to Wiring.
Remember that some sensors will be far away from the Wiring board: long wires are then required!
Put everything together
Put the sensors under the tiles you have planned to be “sensitive”. The thickness of the sensors will make some tiles more “height” than others. We actually did not solve that detail.
Tape together the wires “hide” them in the space between the tiles’ rows to avoid to have unsettled tiles. Use bi-adhesive tape to fix everything on the wood base.
Building the floor is not difficult, but it takes a lot of time (5 days).
The switches are easy to press and they work, but not so well when under the tiles. This problem was solved adding an extra cardboard layer between the sensors and the tiles: the sensors then worked, but the tiles were more height.
The sensors however didn’t work when children were pressing them, because they were too light.
The projection was pretty angled and was not perfectly rectangular (but trapezoidal): fortunately wasn’t a real problem for our project.