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.
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.
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.
If you walk by Madison Square Park here in NYC from now through April 13th, you’ll spot a confusing sight: three water towers, the sort we usually see perched atop the city’s buildings holding much of our water supply—and usually a familiar part of the urban landscape. The three tanks in the park, however, do not contain water but rather are Brooklyn-based Chilean artist Iván Navarro’s (previously here and here) latest light installation titled This Land is Your Land after the Woody Guthrie song. This site-specific piece “reflects” the experience of immigration through mirrored neon type, as well as a neon ladder, that repeat infinitely within the wooden cylinders. The word “me” reflects becoming “we” alternating up the interior of one tank, while “BED” in another. I stopped by during the day and then again at night to see these and enjoyed the experience both ways. Having them stand low in the park, with the backdrop of the Flatiron building from one angle and, at night, each one glowing downward with the brightly lit Empire State Building behind from a different position, make the choice of location all the more appropriate. So, make a point to pass by, and peek under, Navarro’s water towers before April 13th.
Photos: James Ewing via Madison Sq. Park’s flickr; Paul Kasmin Gallery; and collabcubed.
A couple of weekends ago, when Dan was in town for a short visit, we went over to the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea to catch the new Doug Wheeler light installation. Having been to the previous Wheeler show two years ago (here) I was very excited to share the experience with my daughter. Unlike the last exhibit, there was no line. In fact, we were asked if we had a reservation, which spurred a moment of panic but, fortunately in our case, it was of no consequence. However, also unlike SA MI 75 DZ NY 12 this Wheeler light installation was less surprising and disorienting, which isn’t a bad thing, just different. While the last exhibit was a bit unnerving upon entry — not being able to tell where the room began or ended — this domed room shows its edge and horizon line right from the door. The previous work instilled a bit of anxiety, this one a calm and soothing effect. As in many of Wheeler’s works the immersive environment emphasizes the viewer’s physical experience of space, in this case focusing attention on the way light almost imperceptibly changes along the horizon as the earth turns. If the last exhibit installation felt like being in a cloud, I would equate this one (based on no personal experience, obviously) to a moon-like atmosphere. Forget watching George Clooney in Gravity, head over to David Zwirner and immerse yourself in Doug Wheeler’s rotational horizon. Best to make a reservation, just to be on the safe side. The installation will be up through March 29, 2014.
Third photo courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery. All others collabcubed.
Winter is a time of migration to warmer climate, not only by birds, but, in the past generation or two, among many of the professionally retired in western societies. And right about now, in the midst of our fourth or fifth snowstorm here in NYC — I’ve lost count — the thought is completely understandable and immensely appealing. Moroccan-born visual and sound artist Younes Baba-Ali, who splits his time between Brussels and Casablanca, has an interesting take on the phenomenon of “migratory flux”. His installation/sculpture titled Ending Your Life Under the Sun converts a coffin into a tanning bed, or is it the other way around? Who hasn’t associated those sun beds with coffins at some point? If you can get past the slightly morbid aspect, there’s definitely wiggle room for a chuckle.
Olivier Ratsi is a French visual artist whose work is mainly based upon representations of space’s perception and the experience of reality. His audiovisual immersive installation, Onion Skin, offers the viewer a changing perspective of space and time. Consisting of two walls set up perpendicular to each other and serving as canvases on which a series of animated geometric shapes are projected—along with sound—a new dimension is slowly revealed. Using repetition and scale, the anamorphic visuals play tricks on the viewer, having what initially seemed flat, suddenly delineate a new space, consequently altering their perception of depth all the while having a hypnotic effect. The illusion appears as the “onion skins” seem to peel away and leave their physical surface behind. Here’s a video:
via rooms magazine
I certainly know where I’ll be headed if I find myself in Frankfurt. NONEON is a small shop/gallery run by designer Fabian Thiele who has been collecting letters from old signs and fixing them up, making them into lights, all, apparently, affordable to boot. Just seeing these piles of illuminated type makes me happy. The shop is only open on Fridays and Saturdays so, if this appeals to you next time in Frankfurt, make sure to plan accordingly. Recycling at its best.
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:
I love everything about Chicago-based designer Audra Hubbell‘s project Letters at Large. For starters, it’s type. Large type at that. Then the combination with architecture and the effect of each on the other is pretty fabulous. Somewhat reminiscent of Jenny Holzer’s Projections, but here it’s all about the one letter as opposed to text. Hubbell unleashes full-scale typography in public spaces as a visual research project exploring the interaction between projected large scale letterforms and the urban Chicago surroundings. Wouldn’t it be great if the poster set were available for purchase.
I’ve seen electrical towers disguised as unconvincing trees, but a colossal robot might be the more fun way to go. That’s just what Buenos Aires art collective Doma did for the Tecnopolis, a science and technology art fair in Villa Martelli, Argentina. The converted power tower was aptly named Coloso and its glowing neon hands, heart, and animated face add to the fun of the almost 148 ft tall artistic intervention. The luminous robot puts on quite a show at night highlighting its winking eyes and growing heart. Watch it in action below:
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:
We’re taking a little summer blogging break this month. To keep you entertained, we’ve put together easy access links to some of our more popular posts in the past months but, of course, feel free to peruse instead by category using the drop-down menu in the right sidebar, or click on the ‘random post’ icon also in the sidebar. There’s always our facebook page, as well, with links to all of our posts. And for those of you in NYC, please check out our recently launched site Culture on the Cheap offering daily suggestions of free and cheap events in New York City.
Enjoy and we’ll be back in a few weeks!
As part of this year’s Summer Streets in NYC — an annual celebration of the city’s most valuable public space: its streets! — for three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park are closed to traffic and opened for people to play, walk, bike, and enjoy. This year, as part of this event the Park Avenue Tunnel which runs from 33rd to 40th Streets, will be transformed into an interactive sound and light installation, Voice Tunnel, by Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (previously here and here.) This rare opportunity to stroll the tunnel will invite participants to walk to a midpoint in the tunnel and deliver short messages into an intercom. The words/sounds will then reverberate out in waves of sound and arching light until they disappear. The intensity of the light will be determined by the pitch and volume of the person’s voice.
Voice Tunnel will be taken down after each of the three Saturdays before car traffic resumes, and will be set up again the following week. Other, smaller, interactive installations include Chat Travieso‘s CoolStop at Foley Square, a water mister that connects to fire hydrants made with recycled PVC piping. The 10′ installation resembles a large splash that participants will be able to stand under for a small reprieve from the heat. Also, The Course of Emotions: a mini-golf experience by Risa Puno, that translates everyday feelings into 9 holes of playable fun. Players putt through a range of emotional obstacles, like the seesaw platform of Insecurity and the par-40 Frustration maze.
Summer Streets will take place on the first three Saturdays of August (3rd, 10th & 17th) from 7am to 1pm.
Photos: Chang W. Lee/New York Times; & SummerStreets
The Royal William Yard in Plymouth, UK has always been a dead end due to its naturally defensive nature and peninsular location. Gillespie Yunnie Architects have recently completed the dramatic staircase that links the far end of the Yard with the open green space above it, a key part of the regeneration masterplan, allowing residents to access the park and historic battlements at the top of the high retaining wall. The staircase, with its striking lighting with changing hues, and stark black exterior, offers that impressive, yet complementary, contrast of old and new against the old stone wall. Plus, the beautifully framed water at the landing, highlighted by the colored lights, makes for a spectacular view.
Photos by Richard Downer
Colorado-based artist/architect Jenn Lewin creates large, immersive, interactive art pieces for the public. From interactive sound and light sculptures that inspire people into play, to woven fiber video curtains that reflect movement, or giant, robotic, ethereal moths that dance based on human touch. In her interactive light installation titled The Pool, Lewin put together 106 interactive circular platforms in giant concentric circles that communicate wirelessly. Each pad is independent and simultaneously interacts and listens to its environment based on user feedback. Together, the 106 pads create complex, surprising, and unpredictable color arrays with their user participants. Each pad in The Pool senses a person’s movements. User inputs such as foot location, foot pressure, and speed are sensed by the pad surface. As a person moves, light ripples out to the surrounding pads. For example, by leaning left, a ripple of varying intensity starts in that direction. A stronger more deliberate lean could cause a ripple to jump rings and fill the entire Pool. Each person’s ripple is unique. The more people that participate the more of a cacophony is created.
The Pool can be as small as 35ft x 35ft or, if spread out, as large as 70ft x 70ft. It’s powered via a normal household outlet and can be placed indoors or out.
Here it is in action:
French art studio Groupe LAPS (previously here) have taken their Key Frames to a higher level, literally. Last November, as part of the GLOW 2012 Festival in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, the flashing/dancing/climbing LED light tube stick figures took over a building and all its balconies, giving the illusion of people creeping around from rooftop to individual rooms when the sun went down and the light show began. Take a look at what I’m talking about in the short video below:
Photos courtesy of Groupe LAPS.
The very much anticipated James Turrell exhibit at the Guggenheim opened this evening and we were fortunate enough to attend the exciting event. The impressive skyspace installation that occupies the seemingly reduced-in-size rotunda does not disappoint. Aten Reign, as the massive installation is titled, cycles through a spectrum of colors—with varying hues of each—in approximately an hour. From white light to deep shades of reds and purples and eventually to almost complete darkness, the central atrium of the museum glows in a mystical yet soothing array of colors, changing people’s skin tones and even playing with one’s eyes and perception of color in the exterior halls lit in their natural white light that seem to take on a pink glow when the rotunda glows green, and green when pink. The rest of the museum is virtually empty except for about 5 rooms containing older works by Turrell all in white light. The trickery in these works is amazing, causing one to doubt their depth perception on a consistent basis. That which seems flat, is actually an open space, and that which seems open is actually a flat wall with projected light. Same goes for a cube of light that is so convincingly 3-dimensional, when in fact it is completely 2-dimensional. But, back to Aten Reign the exhibit’s pièce de resistance: the multi-tiered scrim creates elliptical circle within elliptical circle, working its way up from the most intense shade to five shades lighter towards to skylight. The rest of the museum looks oddly cropped and bare sans art, but it makes you appreciate the James Turrell installation-filled rooms, all the more.
James Turrell will be on exhibit at the Guggenheim through September 25, 2013.