Art in Touch
The Arts Council of Kern organized a traveling exhibition of tactile and interactive art that was exhibited especially for blind and visually impaired community members. The council put out a call for works of art by regional artists. From the selected art for the exhibition, one or two works of art were also commissioned for permanent installation at the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Bakersfield.
A dance performance at the reception for 2012 Grantee Firefly Grove. Photo courtesy of the artist. People have always been fascinated by the firefly. The sight of an entire thicket lit up with fireflies’ shifting rhythmic patterns of movement and light filled us with awe and wonder. The loss of fireflies due to urban light pollution is an acknowledged problem in New England, but one that is not well understood. This project educated people about the nature of light pollution, illustrated its impact on the lives of the fireflies, and demonstrated the fragility of our ecology. An interactive component of this artwork showed the viewers, in real-time, the fireflies’ response to light pollution. Students learned about light pollution and had a personalized experience by making and installing their own ‘firefly’.
FLOAT was a participatory art/design project using air-quality-sensing kites in Beijing, China. FLOAT had two components; a workshop and a public installation. The workshops gathered local Beijing residents to make kites with an air-quality-sensing module, and the public installation was a group kite flight in parks throughout the city using these kites. The air quality data was fed and geolocated onto a mapping API, and displayed through LED lights. A series of longer term installations throughout the city offered residents “air quality stations” that displayed air quality data in real time, previously recorded data and education about urban health. Through the poetics and playfulness of kite flying, FLOAT sparked dialogue on urban environmental health issues, and gave agency to city dwellers to map, record and engage actively in the monitoring of their environment.”
Head Picnic Tea Party
Blending references to the absurdity of the Mad Tea Party, the pomp of formal tea service, and the gaiety of a spring picnic, this interactive environment created a delightfully surreal stage for comic interaction. Tea party guests entered a room with holes in its low ceiling. Guests sat on chairs with their heads poking up through the holes. As they looked around, they found themselves in a old-fashioned sitting room, decorated tastefully with ornate wallpaper, framed photos and antique decor. The floor of the room, however, was grass. A scrumptious offering of colored macaroons and tea was then served to the guest ‘heads.’Head Picnic Tea Party was installed in a city park in Guadalajara, Mexico in the summer of 2012.
2012 Grantee installation New Bionics. Photo courtesy of the artist. Imagine a world where our refuse comes alive and lives on long after our presence. This otherworldly environment (created by New Bionics) was set in the scene of an abandoned office, full of dilapidated equipment and unkempt supplies. Out of quantities of shredded documents grew stalagmite-like shapes, moss-like textures and grass-like ground cover, which reclaimed the office space as their natural habitat.As visitors explored the space, their presence triggered sounds that mutated from organic (such as birds singing or crickets chirping) to mechanic (such as the sound of a printer.) Each sound activated other sounds in the room, creating swells of cascading atmospheric noise.Lighting was also a key element of this piece. The forms glowed with a luminous pigment, harkening the glow of plankton or the sheen of wet moss on trees. As visitors carefully navigated the space, lighting effects were triggered. The artist worked with businesses to collect shredded paper documents. An informational booklet, designed for both children and adults, was produced to complement the exhibit. Children were educated about where paper comes from and fun paper-craft activities. The section geared toward adults was about the environmental impact of the paper industry, and about creative approaches to reducing paper consumption. The booklet also featured photos of felled trees in the Carpathian Mountains. New Bionics first showed an in-progress incarnation of the piece at the Czech Cultural Center in Prague, March 1 through April 4, 2012. It then debuted at Kiev’s first International Biennale, from May 24 through July 31, 2012, at the National Cultural-Art and Museum Complex. Then, from September 7 through 24, 2012 the piece was presented at the annual International event Gogolfest.
An isle of the ‘store’ of 2012 Grantee OmegaMart. Photo courtesy of the artist. OmegaMart was a surreptitiously fictional, fully-stocked and functioning supermarket that opened in Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 5, 2012. OmegaMart was marketed as a real supermarket, attracting shoppers who interacted directly with the hundreds of fictional products lining the shelves. OmegaMart shoppers enjoyed all the trappings of the most pleasant shopping experience; soothing muzak, freshly mopped floors, chipper employees and array of colorful products gleaming under the bright florescent lighting. Only upon close investigation did shoppers notice any peculiarity about the products. Shoppers may also have encountered the employees bursting into impromptu dance numbers and other bizzarre performances.
Perspectives was a collection of giant children’s blocks scattered around and suspended within the heart of Central London’s Southbank Centre. Blocks varied in size from 18 inches to 10 feet tall, and were on display as part of the Festival of the World during the summer of 2012 (from June 1 to September 9), celebrating the power of art to change lives. The vibrant blocks were placed around the Southbank Centre outdoor space in such a way that if viewed from the proper perspectives (i.e. two specific spots) they lined up, appearing to be the same size and revealing a hidden message. These messages changed throughout the summer.
The Pool, 2012
The Pool was an environment of giant, concentric circles created from interactive circular pads. By entering the pool, you’d enter a world where play and collaborative movement created swirling effects of light and color. Imagine a giant canvas where you could paint and splash light collaboratively.The Pool was composed of 106 interactive circular platforms placed in giant concentric circles. This arrangement was as small as 40 feet x 40 feet (when compressed) or as large as 100 feet x 100 feet (when expanded.) All of the 106 pads communicated wirelessly and “listened” to each other in an organic network formed in the same way people interact. The Pool had no single master computer and did not use a router to control connections. Each pad was independent and simultaneously interacted and listened to its environment based on user feedback. Together, the 106 pads created complex, surprising, and unpredictable color arrays with their user participants.By adding and subtracting light, individuals and groups of people were able to interact with The Pool in profound ways. The interaction varied dramatically depending on the number of individuals involved. This dynamic interaction between individuals and The Pool created environments ranging from curious and playful with few participants to energetic and competitive with many participants. Like a giant game of light “ping pong,” The Pool had users running and jumping, adding, bouncing, and mixing light together.The Pool was installed in a public space in Denver, Colorado, in the summer of 2012.
Symphony in D Minor
Symphony in D Minor was an interactive sound and video installation that opened October 2012 at the Skybox, a 7000 square-foot public arts space in Philadelphia, PA. Large hand-cast resin sculptures hung 40 feet from the ceiling of the space, and were suspended just within reach of the audience. As individuals touched the sculptures, thereby setting them in motion, video projections and audio of a thunderstorm were seen and heard. Each sculpture was a unique instrument, with its own set of visuals and sounds. Audience participants set a symphony in motion by moving the forms through the air, triggering the various sound elements of a thunderstorm. In their dormant states, these giant illuminated pendulums radiated abstracted video projections of water droplets and slow moving clouds. As their motion sensors detected movement, the sculpture’s projections morphed into swirling torrents of clouds.
The Temple for Christchurch
The Temple for Christchurch project took the tradition of the Temple at Burning Man to the earthquake ravaged city of Christchurch. This Temple was created to give the people of Christchurch a chance to write out their experiences and cathartically release them through fire. The Temple itself drew its inspiration from the acceleration record from the station nearest to the epicenter of the M6.3 on February 22nd 2011, the most devastating in a sequence of earthquakes which hit the city.
Valla con Musica (go with music)
This interactive structure was designed to be permanently placed on a public bicycle route. Along the 25 meters of the route, 20-30 tuned tubular bells hung from a railing. Cyclists and pedestrians played the bells by touching the structure with a stick or any object hard enough to produce sound, producing a composed melody when played in sequence. Posted signs provided information about the the written melody, the organizations involved with the project, and the artist. Valla con Musica debuted in the fall of 2012.