Interactive art installations

Today we talked about the sort of interactive technology we might use in the final exhibition.

Interactive technology, when used in art installations, allows the audience to join in and interact with the artworks.

Mark started the session by demonstrating different types of variable sensors such as a squeeze sensor, a pressure sensor and one that responds to vibration. The sensors were linked to audio files so we were able to create different chords, alter the pitch and speed of different pieces of music and create sound effects.

All of the sensors feed into an interface box (called the Apollo Ensemble) that sends signals from the sensors to the software that contains the audio files and a range of different commands and triggers that can be used to produce sound, lighting and visual effects. As well as sensors the interface box also uses switches (for example push buttons and floor pads) to send signals to the software.

We then looked at some examples of interactive art installations, including:

  • Flock by KMA where Trafalgar Square was transformed into a ballet stage using motion sensors and projected light and video. Members of the public had their movements tracked by the motion sensors and the software made the light and video projections follow the audience’s movements so it appeared as if they were dancing together
  • Insyde by Airside. This piece had several layers of interactivity – motion sensors detected someone’s presence in the space and triggered the appearance of illuminated paw prints on the floor. As someone stepped on the paw prints they triggered the appearance of animated creatures on the screen. These creatures then interacted with the audience as they moved about in the space.
  • Access by Marie Sester. In this piece motion sensors tracked the movements of people in the room. People watching the piece live on the internet were then able to select individuals and the light and audio beams then followed these individuals around the room. The audio beams meant that the sound was aimed directly at the individuals and made the audio sound like it was coming from very close by them.
  • Appearing Rooms by Jeppe Hein created walls of water using interactive fountains. People who had been standing in an open space found themselves surrounded by these walls and had to wait until the walls disappeared again before they could leave the space. The pattern in which the walls appeared changed every day, meaning that the audience couldn’t always predict when and where the walls would appear.
  • Sense of Place was a piece created by Geodesic artists Mark, Damian and John. The piece was installed in Bootham Bar in York city walls and explored 2000 years of the city’s history using audio, lighting and video effects. Sensors captured people’s presence in the space and triggered different audio files that related to different period’s in the city’s history.

After talking about these examples and the sort of technology used in them we went on to talk about how we might use interactive technology in our exhibition. Mark and Ben demonstrated how we might be able to use motion sensors to detect people as they get closer to the portraits, with each element of the portrait being revealed in sequence as the viewer gets closer.

We looked at the software interface on the screen that showed the different timers and showed how all of the different elements are linked together.

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