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In the Sky, painted… Chrome

In the Sky, painted… Chrome

In the Sky, painted… Chrome

Have you ever been at a show whose audience, either greeting actors or overcome with emotion while hearing a song, turn on the screens of their mobile phones, turning the public into a sea of stars? What if the same device were used, instead, to create a sculpture? Well, that's the idea behind the collaboration between the artists Janet Echelman, for the scuplture, and Aaron Koblin, Creative Director of the Data Arts Team, in Google's Creative Lab, for the interactive art.

The idea of Vancouver's Unnumbered sparks

The 30th anniversary of the TED Conference, from March 15th-22nd, 2014, was celebrated by their 745-feet long aerial sculpture, extended between two buildings in Vancouver, Canada.

Its most eye-catching feature isn't its size, though, but rather the different aspects it shows as the hours go by. By day, indeed, the 145 miles of interwoven fiber melt into sky.

By night, on the other hand, the name of the installation becomes clear: Skies painted with unnumbered sparks, which are produced by the interaction between the fiber and the movements drawn by passers-by on their smartphones. And their small movements are translated into a trail of light on the huge canvas hanging in midair.

But how is it possible?

The latest web technologies for an interactive piece of art

Aaron Koblin made a Google Chrome window out of this canvas, consisting in more than 10 million pixels. Its interactivity was realised by means of some of the latest web technologies, which can establish a connection with the sculpture, with a fast processing of the drawing movements, and reproduce sounds on the mobile device. Again, art and technology turn out to be not that far apart, after all.

As Janet Echelman herself reveals, "the skies are painted with unnumbered sparks" is a quote from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and the dictator is speaking about all human beings. They therefore become the real protagonists of this work because, as Echelman says, "it's about each one of us being one of those stars – those sparks – and being able to paint the skies".

Photos © Ema Peter for Studio Echelman

Other photos

Unnumbered sparks


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