Public Art, Public Play

Today’s Major FUN Award goes to Rafael Lozano-Hemmer for his “Relational Architecture” projects, as exemplified by his body movies piece – (this link takes you to a very large quicktime movie, requiring a fast connection and great patience – all well worth the effort).

In this remarkable work of art, Lozano-Hemmer invites people to play via complex and subtle uses of light and technology. I quote from his website:

Body Movies transforms public space with 400 to 1,800 square metres of interactive projections. Thousands of photo portraits taken on the streets of the cities where the project is exhibited are shown using robotically controlled projectors. However, the portraits only appear inside the projected shadows of local passers-by, whose silhouettes measure between 2 to 25 metres high, depending on how far people were from the powerful light sources placed on the floor of the square. A custom-made computer vision tracking system triggers new portraits as old ones are revealed.

Body Movies effectively transforms a public square into a public playground, where strangers play with light, shadow, and each other. It illustrates every principle I can think of that characterizes an effective play environment: It supports almost any degree of involvement. Players can choose to ignore it completely. Players can watch other players at play. Players can dip into and out of it at will. Players can get silly and stay safe, get serious and take risks, become fascinated and fascinating, play alone or in groups. Players can spend hours figuring out how to make it do things.

Lazano-Hemmer came to my attention via an email I received from Madamjujujive, aka Julie Ferguson, a contributor to two of my “Blogs o’Fun” – Metafilter and Everlasting Blort. She knew that I’d be at least as excited as she was about her discovery of the art of as described in this discussion on MetaFilter. I mention this by way of thanks, to Madamjuvujive, Rolo, who passed the lilnk on to the MetaFilter community, and to the many wonders and powers of we who blog.

Want to see more of Lazano-Hemmer? He recommends HUMO: A mobile platform for the rapid deployment of huge images and his “ambitious net project” Vectorial Elevation.

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