It’s a cool glow-in-the-dark playground. No, it’s an art installation. Well, actually, husband-and-wife team Eric Höweler + Meejin Yoon of the Boston-based Höweler + Yoon Architecture were striving for both. The temporary installation titled Swing Time, located in a public park space next to the Boston Convention Center in South Boston, consists of 20 glowing oval swings that encase LED lights which activate with the swings’ movement. When forces are static and the swings are not in use, they emit a soft, white light that illuminates the area. When the swings are in motion, the micro-controller switches the light from white to purple, creating a more colorful glowing effect. Swing Time is part of an initiative to create the first interactive public space in the city, with the goal to entice people of all ages to play. If you’re in Boston, you might want to check it out.
This looks fun and since we’ll be attending festivities in Maryland this weekend, maybe we’ll be able to squeeze in a quick jaunt to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. before the maze comes tumbling (well, maybe not tumbling) down on Monday, September 1, 2014. Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) (previously here and here) has created a concave wooden labyrinth in the middle of the museum’s main hall. Constructed with maple plywood, the structure rewards your efforts by revealing a 360-degree view of the maze once you reach the center, the point where the 18 ft tall walls are clearly a lot shorter. Of course, there’s always the option to get a different—and more complete— perspective/view from the second and third floor balconies without doing all the work, but then, what fun would that be?
The Flederhaus—a pun off the word fledermaus which means ‘bat’ in German—is a fun structure in Vienna designed by architects Heri & Salli explicitly for hanging around and relaxing. The open building, situated in the Museum Quarter of the city, houses 28 hammocks on 5 floors that offer great views to one and all at no cost. The inviting hammocks are arranged to allow for meeting and interacting with neighbors. A fun public space for sure.
Photos by Mischa Erben courtesy of the architects.
I get a particular thrill out of exploring and discovering things on my own, by chance. I’m not a big fan of GPS and forever get annoyed at the level of detail on Mapquest or Google maps when trying to get directions. For me, part of the fun is making the effort to figure it out myself and the mistakes I may make in doing so are part of the adventure. So it’s not surprising that I like the concept behind Watershed’s Playable City Award in Bristol. In their second year, The Playable City Award aims at getting people to use technology to capture that element of surprise/fun and adventure instead of using it to solely engineer our lives. They invite entrants from all over the world to submit ideas that use technology to create playful interactions connecting the people of the city and helping them engage with their surroundings in unexpected ways.
This year’s award of 30,000 pounds was presented to New York-based interactive designer Jonathan Chomko and Treviso-based architect/designer Matthew Rosier for their interactive light installation titled Shadowing. Using infrared tracking and triggered projections, the shadow of a previous passerby will be replayed to the next person who walks under a modified streetlight. The creators are hoping for a playful experience, though there is potential for a little creepiness, too, but they are working on ideas to avoid that as well as many more features before Shadowing is unveiled to the public on September 10, 2014.
I suppose you could say that by posting this I’ve spoiled the element of discovery and surprise, and you’d probably be correct. Sorry. Quick…stop reading! But, if your memory is as bad as mine, even if you happen to be one of the few people reading this who will be in Bristol come September, the odds of remembering this as you pass under a streetlight are quite slim.
If you’re not one to care about spoilers, you can see Chomko and Rosier’s animated prototype below.
A recent project at the University of Isthmus in Panama City by one of my favorite Spanish art collectives, Boa Mistura (previously), engaged the architecture and industrial design students. Invited to give a two-week workshop, the artists worked with the students to create a design using their signature anamorphic style which was then executed by the students. Seeing the university as a Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) they created a type mural on the side of one of the campus buildings that reads pensar (think) from one angle, and sentir (feel) from another; two key elements in obtaining knowledge.
All images courtesy of BoaMistura
French transmedia artist Miguel Chevalier presented Magic Carpets 2014 in Morocco at the beginning of the month. The spectacular lighting installation turned the massive floor of the Sacré Coeur church in Casablanca into a joyful interactive experience. From a sea of vibrantly colored spirals to pixels that gave way to cellular-inspired patterns, the contemporary animated projections moved along nicely complemented by Michel Redolfi’s music. See it in action in the video below. I could see this working very nicely at our own Park Avenue Armory here in NYC…hint, hint.
The Frankfurt based Luminale 2014 — one of the world’s largest and most renowned light festivals — concluded this past weekend. As per usual, there were many impressive installations this year including Cornea Ti, a collaboration between Interior Architecture students from the School of Design Mainz and Ensemble Modern Frankfurt. Consisting of three connected containers that formed a sort of interactive stage, visitors would step through the amorphous tunnels triggering the many integrated LEDs hidden within the walls of the structure with their movements. In addition to the movement, sound caused the light to change, illuminating letterforms that would transform and morph into anagrams, only visible from the perspective of the audience. I haven’t been able to make out any words myself in the video below, but I sure do like the effect.
Reminiscent of the summer of 2000 when The Cow Parade hit the streets of NYC—we were huge fans, having set out on the mission to find all the cows and photograph ourselves with our favorites, pre-social media era, just for our own pleasure…imagine that!— this April the city has kicked off The Big Egg Hunt NY with close to 300 eggs “hidden” around town that Fabergé commissioned artists, designers, and architects to paint, or create their own, all in the name of charity. The participants are an impressive bunch, from artists such as Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, to architects Zaha Hadid and Morphosis, to graphic designer Debbie Millman, fashion designers including Cynthia Rowley and Diane Von Furstenberg, and, of course, street artists: Dain, Cost, Faust and plenty more. Unlike the cows at the beginning of the century, the eggs can be tracked via smartphone app that will notify a person if they’re near an egg and will place it on a map once it’s been discovered (and checked in) by ten people. It seems many of the street art eggs are located downtown, other eggs are exhibited in Grand Central, Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle (there are a whole bunch more photos here.) But those are just a few eggsamples… there are lots more to find all across the boroughs, so get cracking! Well, you know what I mean. You have until April 17th. After that they’ll be exhibited at Rockefeller Center through the 25th and then auctioned off. Anyone can bid via the website and there are also more affordable mini versions available in the site’s shop.
Photos courtesy of The Big Egg Hunt NY & facebook page; danap07’s instagram; and complex.
It’s that time of year again, when all things turn red and heart-shaped in honor of St Valentine. Times Square is no exception. Now in its sixth year since the revitalization of Father Duffy Square, Times Square Arts held their annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition for a heart- and love-themed interactive sculpture to be placed across the square from the TKTS booth steps. This year’s winning design is Young Projects’ Match-Maker that will cosmically connect people, guided by their zodiac signs. Peering through bright red, interwoven periscopes – which, from certain angles, appears as an iconic heart, while from others a more abstract tangled object – visitors are offered glimpses of their four most suited astrological mates.
But while Match-Maker is a clever design, the competition was no slouch either. The five finalists were strong candidates and merit mentioning as well. Haiko Cornelissen Architecten submitted Tweet Heart NY, an illuminated heart that would pulsate with every tweet @ it. The more tweets, the faster the pulse. Schaum/Shieh Architects offered My Fuzzy Valentine, a striped graphic reflective structure that would create moiré patterns when rotated that pulse like a beating heart, as well as making for great selfie opportunities and creating digital Valentine-grams. Next, The Living proposed Vapor Valentine: a dynamic cloud that captures and displays the ever-changing life and light of Times Square. People could interact with the heart through touching and blowing the cloud, through placing their hands on the glass box to affect the vapor inside, and through a custom text-messaging hotline. Heart, proposed by Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio, would have been made from an illuminated circle that could be pulled and folded to form a heart. When released it would flutter until regaining its balance. Lastly, SoftLAB’s entry was inspired by the sweetness and forms of rock candy and candy hearts, hence its name Sweet ❤. Its kaleidoscopic reflective surface would capture the lights of Times Square in addition to revealing hidden messages as visitors moved their mobile cameras around the sculpture.
You can visit the winning Match-Maker sculpture through March 11, 2014, and you can read more about all the entries over here.
It was only a matter of time before 3D printing turned to food, or vice versa. There have been some spectacularly beautiful pieces (actually, too beautiful to put in your coffee!) made with sugar, and now there is talk of Hershey teaming up with 3D Systems to create, I assume, some amazing things with chocolate. So, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Dutch company MELT is creating an the Icepop Generator to bring personalized ice pops to the public while educating them in 3D design technology. It appears, however, that the Icepop Generator works more on a carving and chiseling process rather than actually 3D printing an ice pop from frozen water but, it’s amazing nonetheless. Starting with a block of ice, the generator (which looks like many 3D printers with the twist of doubling as a freezer) has a sort of drill that moves back and forth along three axes, carving out the designated design, in effect, functioning as a mechanical sculptor. The Icepop Generator was just funded yesterday on Voordekunst—a Dutch funding platform similar to Kickstarter—so these pops are likely to be at a street fair or festival near you in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime the creative team at MELT has made several a pop, some in their own image. You can see how it works in this video:
At the VVTs All-Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow last week, an upside down house had visitors in a tizzy. Similar in concept to Jean-François Fourtou’s Tombée du Ciel, this house (not sure who the artist/designer behind the project is) is larger and even includes a car hanging from the driveway. The multi-room structure was built upside down as a tourist attraction and was fully fitted with furnishings, kitchen, bath, and even food on the dining room table, all hanging from the ceiling, or, rather, floor…wait. It appears that at least in one of the rooms a video camera was inverted inside a cabinet (see third photo down) projecting the room live and right side up on a tv screen and, consequently, its visitors upside down. Confusing and fun.
via gizmodoThanks Ramon and Eugene. (GMS)
The other day I passed by Fresco Gelateria/Café and was reminded of the last time I was in there with a friend who noticed an interesting gadget on their counter. “Meet DipJar—” as the sign reads, “the first ever tip jar for credit and debit cards.” This nicely designed (by industrial designer Simon Enever) stainless cylindrical vessel charges your credit card a dollar tip with one quick swipe or, more precisely, “dip” of your card. This clever product is the brainchild of Ryder Kessler who, after chatting with several baristas, learned that along with the uptick of credit and debit card use for small purchases came the plummeting of cash jar tips. In a world where printed currency is fast becoming a thing of the past, replaced by credit and bitcoins, this is just another example of smart design following in the footsteps of Square and the less successful waving-of-cell-phones for subway entry. This is good news for industrial designers! Bad news for cheapskates: not having change or singles is no longer a valid excuse to avoid tipping.
Who doesn’t like a good flipbook, right? And your very own? Even better. A few years back I made a couple of flipbooks of my kids when they were little via flipclips which were a hit, but now kinetic artists Wendy Marvel and Mark Rosen have taken the concept to a whole new level with their FlipBooKit Moto, a motorized animated flip book. Based on their own artworks inspired by the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge, the duo applied the same techniques they use in their sculptural mechanical flipbooks to a DIY kit. It’s easy to assemble— you’ll only need a screwdriver—and will take less than an hour to complete. You can use the included art or use your own images, the possibilities are limitless! Looks like a great gift idea. You can hear more about it in the video below and you can purchase it here.
I’ve been through a corn maze and even visited an ice bar, but I had never heard of these incredible Ice Castles created in Colorado, Utah, and New Hampshire. As an homage to the Polar Vortex we’re presently experiencing here on the east coast, I thought I’d post some photos of these castles/mazes that are built by hand from more the 20,000,000 pounds of ice. These glacial formations include caverns, archways, paths and tunnels inviting visitors to wander through in awe. If the ice itself isn’t amazing enough, at night these structures are illuminated by colored lights for additional dramatic effect. The castles begin by ‘growing’ more than 5,000 icicles per day which are then sculpted together. By dipping the icicles in freezing water they then stick to each other and with the combination of wind, temperature fluctuation, and water volume a variety of effects can be achieved. The process takes a few weeks of growth and artistry, repeating the process twice daily, until the final ice masterpiece is completed. If temperatures don’t change much around here, we may be able to build one of these in Central Park any day now…
Take a virtual walk through with this video:
Photos courtesy of icecastles
Tokyo-based teamLab is a group of ultra-technologists including programmers, user-interface engineers, mathematicians, CG animators, as well as architects, designers, artists and editors, who blur the boundaries of their respective fields to create and discover new ideas and push limitations. Presently, their interactive installation Homogenizing and Transforming World is part of the exhibition Distilling Senses: A Journey through Art and Technology in Asian Contemporary Art, at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Individual balls floating within an enclosed space communicate to each other via wireless connection. They change color and emit different sounds when touched by visitors or bump into each other or other objects. The balls send color information to other balls which in turn spread the information to other balls, changing all the balls to the same color. The piece is a metaphor for the internet and globalization in general. People act as intermediaries for information which so quickly travels via the internet globally, transforming the world in an instant and unifying at the same time.
You can see the installation live through January 12, 2014 or in the video below anytime:
This past fall, up until last month, Mégaphone, an interactive installation, occupied the Promenade des Artistes, in the heart of Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal with the intention of reappropriating public space. The installation, designed by Moment Factory, invited visitors to gather and explore the fun side to public speaking. Using a megaphone participants could speak out, their words transformed in real time into images projected onto the façade of the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), leaving their visual “footprint” on the urban landscape. Inspired by the city’s early 20th-century history of popular assemblies as well as the 19th-century British tradition of the Speaker’s Corner, the installation gives everyone a chance to speak out and air their concerns. Visual effects of waves, scribbles, and distortions were generated by voice recognition software designed by the Computer Research Institute of Montreal. Certainly a crowd pleaser for all ages as seen in the video below:
The Numen/For Use (previously here and here) guys are at it again. Known for their fun, playful, interactive structures, the Croatian-Austrian collective has recently gone inflatable. Their latest installation in Yokohama (home of the also fun CupNoodles Museum) looks like a carnival Moonwalk gone wild. The stylized cloud-like object has nets inside connected to its inner lining that expand and become taut as the blob is blown up. The exterior membrane is sheer enough that when lit from within, it acts as a projection screen for the activity inside. The nets provide climbing and tumbling surfaces on multiple levels. Looks like a blast.
Las Magdalenas of Lagaleriademagdalena (previously here) have been at it again. Actually, they never stop. About a year ago the duo set up a pop-up photocall intervention titled Encaja_dos (meaning ‘to fit’ and read ‘within box’) where guests’ heads and torsos were photographed, well, within a box. These were placed on the walls of an empty lot in El Born, a section in the old part of Barcelona. Its popularity was such, that slowly over the year the lot had additions made to it, with gravel and seating added, becoming one of the most photographed corners of the city and recently included in official city tours. But Encaja_dos is no longer exclusive to Barcelona. Last month Las Magdalenas moved its next iteration to Rivas Vaciamadrid as part of the Cultural Festival in the Streets of Rivas. Taking new portraits of locals in white boxes, they then, with the assistance of many volunteers and friends, entered the waters clad in fisherman boots and pasted the photos along the white walls of the park, giving the impression of windows overlooking the banks. Add to that the reflective effect of the water, and the result is quite different from the original lot in El Born.
Keep an eye on these ladies. They are in full-steam-ahead mode, with new ideas and pop-ups every month. I wouldn’t be surprised if their work extended past the streets of Spain shortly.