Sound Sculptures on a Mind-Boggling Scale

This installation has me speechless–and it’s a good thing, because I wouldn’t want to pollute it with the sound of my voice.  Watch the video below and you’ll know exactly what I mean.  Artist Zimoun has taken seemingly mundane objects and put them together in “architecturally-minded platforms of sound” for an overall beautiful result.  I say no more. Watch the video!


Source: Zimoun


Laser Cave Prototype is Freaking Awesome.

In general, you know something is cool when you think it’s 10 times bigger than it actually turns out to be – and the same applies to Suryummy’s “Laser Cave Prototype.”  From stop-motion animation miniatures to the Mona Lisa to Nanotechnology, there is worldwide appreciation for working with the tiniest tiny objects you can get your paws on.  Laser Cave is not that tiny, but I couldn’t believe my eyes at 0:18 where the camera zooms out to reveal the whole thing is just a little box.  I had been picturing something more along the lines of Wonwei/SuperNatureDesign’s “Prisma 1666” where the piece takes up the entire floor.  However, by using mirrors Laser Cave is able to achieve this out-of-the-box type of effect.  The piece was prepared for Mekanism’s “After School Special” art show

Actual Size

Actual Size

Laser Cave Prototype from Suryummy on Vimeo.

Source: Suryummy

Interactive Chandelier made of Cell Phones

“Mobile Mobile” is not your typical clap-on-clap-off kind of lamp-instead it’s made out of dangling, jingling cell phones.  Unfortunately, this project took on some serious kitschy-ness when it was used to play Christmas jingles in a company lobby, but aside from that, it’s quite creative.  I don’t mean to put down this project but Christmas jingles really are wasted on this cool project if you ask me! I’d way rather see it playing some kind of traveling video, or allow the audience to interact with phone sounds using something other than traditional christmas tunes.  To quote Stephen Hawking,

‎”It does seem slightly pitiful that so many of our great scientific and engineering minds are being wasted on creating fine new ways to pay for your shampoo with your iPhone, rather than on creating machines that can swiftly and safely transport humans to occupy the Planet Yog.”  (Cnet)

Interesting to think about.  While these projects are cool as is, it’s okay to be critical–that’s how bigger, better things come about, right?  In another vein, something I also like here is the idea of using recycled technology as art.  Those phones are new-looking but still obsolete for the company that replaced them.  Watch the video below and then scroll down to read about how it was made.

What I found most impressive was the programming that went into the project.  Here’s what artist James Theophane has to say about it:

“About The Technology We Used – by Oliver DewdneyThe plan was to make 50 mobiles to each play a different note of a Christmas carol, and flash in time. We set up a test mobile phone – an HTC Touch – to connect to a wifi access point whilst being powered by a charger.

We ‘ping’ed the IP address of the phone for two days to verify that it would remain contactable. The phone did get a tiny bit warm, but it worked. We noticed that the ping time changed significantly between different power modes on the wifi of the mobile – from 100ms down to about 2ms on ‘performance’.

The plan was to write a small program that ran on the phone that understood a small set on instructions and have a controller running on a PC sending the commands. The basic list of commands was: light on/off, change colour ‘wash’ and beep.

The first challenge was turning the backlight off – WinMobile is a multitasking OS running WindowsCE as the kernel. The power management subsystem allows you to suggest power settings, but the OS takes into account all the running programs needs.

Turning the backlight fully off proved problematic in the project timescales (a matter of days). Next was beeping. The PC has always had a speaker that could beep – it was connected to the chip that controlled the keyboard – so has had a corresponding function e.g. in windows the MessageBeep function.

WindowsCE was designed for a range of platforms and embedded controllers and it looks like beep was not a core function. Luckily the Microsoft developers included some sample code on how to implement a MIDI sound system expecting hardware manufacturers to license third party full musical instrument libraries. It looks like the manufacturers kept with the simple sine wave sample code implementation.  This was good enough for our mobile phone beeping musical rendition.

The program on the phone was written in Microsoft .Net C# and consisted of two parts: one registering with a web service – logging the fact that it was still alive and its current IP address, and two a UDP listener – listening for commands from the controller over the network.

The controller was written to read the midi file of the Carol and send the individual notes to individual phones at the right time. Using UDP instead of TCP and the ‘performance’ setting on the phone meant that the commands arrived promptly on the phones.”

Source: Theophane Website

Interactivity Without Physical Contact: How does it work?

Check out this cool interactive piece by Jack Schulze and Timo Arnall called “Nearness.”  If you’re a frequent YouTuber you’ve probably seen videos of “near field communication” inventions before, which basically just means that two objects can communicate by existing in close proximity.  What I like most about this type of work and this piece in particular is how clearly it shows that “everything happens for a reason.”  Now, usually when people use that phrase they are talking about some kind of higher power, usually God’s plans, something happening because of specific intent or destiny.  No one can know that.  This piece demonstrates what we do know–cause and effect. Everything happens as a result of something else happening, a domino effect, butterfly effect, whatever you want to call it.  A piece of dust lit up by the sunlight catches your eye for a split second, and your entire day is affected whether you like it or not.  The same is apparent in this piece, except unlike in our own lives it’s all laid out in front of you.  It’s such a simple idea, isn’t it? But it’s what created life. It’s not to be underestimated. Watch it play out in “Nearness” below:

Nearness from Timo on Vimeo.

To see more of these cool projects, check out the Noupe article “15 Amazing Interactive Installations” where I learned about these.

The Power of Interactive Monuments

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen digital interactivity span the genre of monuments before, but after stumbling on “The Living Tribute” I’m now going to say it’s got infinite potential for success. This project took place in Canada for April 28th’s “Day of Mourning,” which remembers those affected by workplace injuries, illness, and fatality.  In just one day, over 5,000 Canadians lit digital candles by pressing their finger to a touch-screen.  See the video below:

Memorials and Monuments are built for people to participate through remembering and relating, so it’s no surprise that digital interactivity complements it.  Some memorials are interactive without going digital; take the holocaust memorial in Berlin, for example, which engages its audience physically and emotionally through architecture.  Other memorials are found on websites, interactive in a very straight-forward way.  I look forward to seeing more digital interactivity (or non-digital, doesn’t really matter) in the realm of monuments and memorials. I think it has a lot of potential.

Interactive Artist Spotlight: Scott Sona Snibbe

Scott Sona Snibbe has been in the interactive art world for a long time and has an impressive track record, having collaborated in the past with artists Bjork and filmmaker James Cameron.  What I like best about his work is his objective; Snibbe says, “The purpose of my work is to bring meaning and joy to people’s lives….By using interactivity, I hope to promote an understanding of the world as interdependent; destroying the illusion that each of us, or any phenomenon, exists in isolation from the rest of reality.”  His work succeeds in this, dealing mainly with interconnectivity, cause & effect, relativity, and illusion.  Below are three of my favorite pieces; “Make Like a Tree” (2005), “Falling Girl,” (2008), and “Boundary Function” (1998).  The first two use shadows captured by camera, one of Snibbe’s preferred motifs.  “Boundary Functions” is quite interesting, especially in how it must be perceived uniquely in different cultures.  Americans are quite fond of their personal space compared to many European and Asian countries, so I’d be curious to see the varied responses from these audiences.

To read more about Scott Sona Snibbe, check out this great article from MetroActive: “The Power of Play.”

“Make Like a Tree” (2005)

“As viewers walk in front of Make Like a Tree’s projected wall, their shadows are recorded and return to this same image as eerie figures in the foreground and background that move between trees, disappear suddenly, and fade into the distance.”

“Falling Girl” (2008) collaboration with Annie Loui

“Falling Girl is an immersive interactive narrative installation that allows the viewer to participate in the story of a young girl falling from a skyscraper. During her miraculously slow descent, the girl reacts to the people and events in each window. Daylight fades, night falls and passes, and at dawn, when the falling girl finally lands on the sidewalk, she is an aged woman bearing no resemblance to the young girl who started her fall minutes before.

Captured on an interactive wall, the silhouettes of viewers viewers appear in apartment windows to juxtapose against the ever-present central image of the girl in silhouette falling slowly as she gets older and older. In this way, viewers participate in this tale about the shortness of our lives and the petty concerns that often occupy us.”

“Boundary Functions” (1998)

“We think of personal space as something that belongs entirely to ourselves. However, Boundary Functions shows us that personal space exists only in relation to others and changes without our control.

Boundary Functions is a set of lines projected from overhead onto the floor, dividing people in the gallery from one another. When there is one person on its floor, there is no response. When two are present, a single line cuts between them bisecting the floor, and dynamically changing as they move. With more than two people, the floor divides into cellular regions, each with the quality that all space within it is closer to the person inside than any one else.”

All project descriptions, videos, and images taken from Scott Sona Snibbe’s website.

Interactive Website of the Week: BLA BLA Draws you into its Character-based Story

It was kind of tough coming up with a title for this one-How do you even begin describe Bla Bla? For starters, it came away from SXSW with an Interactive award for the art category, so you know it’s good. The non-linear story is broken up into numbered segments, and the story progresses once you extinguish your clicking options or decide you’re bored and force the progression by clicking on the next segment’s number. However, I found that these storylines are perfectly timed out even for the ADD-riddled brain. You won’t be bored!

Since there’s no clear plot or narration, it’s tough to tell exactly what it is that draws you into this site. One thing that’s surely responsible is the character, who displays from the start a wide range of emotions. As a participant, you start to wonder how much control you have over this big-headed little guy and how he’s going to react to your initially apathetic clicks. Yet as the chapters progress, your clicks become more and more sympathetic, as you start to care about him just a little bit. Will this click make him angry? Maybe. Will this click make him happy? There’s only one way to know for sure.

One thing I really liked about this project is how easy it is to navigate–you never get the feeling that you’ve left a stone unturned. Since the content itself is non-linear, it was important for Vince Morriset to make a linear structure in which the story could be told. This kept me from getting frustrated, which is a common experience for interactive websites that don’t provide any direction or site map. Well executed, sir! Now everyone, go experience Bla Bla here.

If you’d like to read more about it after trying out Bla Bla for yourself, click here to visit the Canadian Animation Interviews blog.  Here are some more stills from my playtime:

Source: Bla Bla

Interactive Website of Last Week: Interactive Music Video “Lights” with Ellie Goulding

Besides the fact that my browser hated me for loading this interactive site and crashed with about 30 seconds left in the “Lights” experience, this piece is extraordinary.  It’s everything you wanted that swirling-lights Mac screensaver to be, plus way more (hence the reason I had to double my weekly website find-sometimes ya gotta!).  Take control of the mouse and dive into this visual landscape of color and motion-while of course listening to the fantastic vocal stylings of Ellie Goulding’s lights.  Would love to see this up on a projector with some big speakers blasting heavy bass. Like the one I just posted, this project came away from SXSW Interactive with an award for the Motion Graphics category. All the credit goes to HelloEnjoy, a company that “creates high-end interactive 3d for the web and mobile.” Here are some stills from my experience:

Interactive Website of the Week: Facebook Stalker Offers You Razor-Filled Lollipop

“Take this Lollipop” won the Experimental category at this years SXSW interactive awards, and all with good reason: it challenges your beliefs on social networking and privacy while both humoring and scaring the living crap out of you. Here’s the trailer:

All you have to do is go to, allow momentary access to your Facebook (you can trust these people, they won at SXSW for christ’s sake), and then sit back and watch as the next minute sends chills up your spine.  You won’t believe your eyes.  It’s an editing and interactive feat directed by Jason Zada.  I wonder what Mark Zuckerberg thought of this.

Van Gogh Starry Night made Interactive!

Made interactive by Petros Vrellis.  As written on Creative Applications:

“Petros Vrellis has created an interactive visualisation and synthesizer that animates Vincent Van Goghs “Starry Night”, using openframeworks to create a simple and elegant interaction. A fluid simulation gently creates a flowing fabric from Van Goghs impressionist portrait of the Milky Way and night sky over Saint-Rémy in France using the thick paint daubs as the particles within the fluid.

A touch interface allows a viewer to deform the image, altering both the flow of the particles and the synthesized sound, and then watch it slowly return to its original state. The sound itself is created using a MIDI interface to create a soft ambient tone out of the movement of the fluid that underscores the soft movement. Beauty through simplicity at its finest and most playful.”

Source: Creative Applications