Ian Charnas

Waterfall Swing

Swing through a waterfall

This computerized waterfall with attached swing set gives you the feeling you are about to get soaked by a falling sheet of water, only to have the water part at the last possible moment, allowing you to stay dry. That cycle of suspense and relief, the basis for drama, repeats every 2.3 seconds.

Screenshot of Waterfall Swing video taken at Sydney Festival in Australia
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A traveling art installation

First displayed at the 2011 Bay Area Maker Faire (San Mateo, USA), the Waterfall Swing went on to exhibit at STRP Festival (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), Sydney Festival (Sydney, Australia), OK Center (Linz, Austria), the World Maker Faire (New York City, USA), Forecastle Festival (Louisville, USA), Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, USA), and Ingenuity Festival (Cleveland, USA), in addition to being featured on an NBC TODAY Show appearance and in promotions for Ray Ban, Swatch, and a Honda commercial.

Screenshot of Waterfall Swing printing heart shapes in falling water at the World Maker Faire in New York City
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Printing in water

The waterfall is created by an array of thousands of computer-controlled solenoid valves that can be individually actuated to produce patterns and shapes in the falling water.  The video shown here demonstrates the waterfall printing hearts, swirls, letters, and other patterns. 

Screenshot of two women swinging on Waterfall Swing at the World Maker Faire in New York City
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In the press

After this early video went viral on YouTube and received millions of views, the Waterfall Swing appeared in publications by Colossal, Frame Magazine, HiVelocity, The New York Observer, The Atlantic, IEEE Spectrum, Popular Mechanics, and the “We Are Makers” TED Talk by Dale Dougherty of Maker Media.

My role in all of this

This project was designed and built as a team by Michael O’Toole of Dash 7 Design (mechanical), Andrew Ratcliff (management), Andrew Witte (software), and myself (electronics).

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Thanks to the many people and organizations who have helped the waterfall swing bring joy around the world.

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