interaction

The Light at the End of The Tunnel: an interactive installation in Public Space

While the interactive media become ubiquitous in public space, how it communicates with its site stays as a question. In this paper, an alternative answer is offered by analysing a multimedia installation focusing on how the social components are triggered by digital interaction. Consequently, the importance of social integration and social-site-specifity become apparent as additional components in the design of interactions in public space.

Author(s)

"Like all social practice, spatial practice is lived directly before it is conceptualised..." [1] (Lefebvre 1991)

It was a rainy day in April 2010 in Frankfurt. As one of the most central junctions of the city, Willy Brandt square was crammed with many people who were hastening  to their goals. People who were hurrying up to the main station, waiting for their trams at the tram station, waiting in a line in front of the theatre, walking through the opera building at the bank square. Business women, business men, students, employees, unemployed, visitors and habitants of Frankfurt, old people, young people, children...The passers-by of this junction were streaming to the underground metro station as the rain flows to the underground.

A man's shouting was heard at the metro station 'I am Paul Auster! It is not my real name!'. People could not realise what was happening down there. 'You are the baleful one, that maculates the country', the other one answered  accusingly. Then a scared young woman stated 'I think... you  never had loved'. Then  another woman was proud of herself stating that she had a mission there. Surely, people could not understand what was happening at their usual metro station on that day overhearing the loud yells of all these people. After a few steps a light theatre welcomed them at the top of the escalators with the voices of Quinn of Paul Auster, Terasias of Sophokles, Lulu of Wedekind, and Motte of Stockmann under the stage lights.*

'The Light at the End of the Tunnel' is an interactive sound and light installation, produced by Atelier Markgraph GmbH in collaboration with city theatre  Schauspiel Frankfurt, Martin Lighting Professionals and  the station managers VGF, for the fifth Light Culture Festival, Luminale 2010 in Frankfurt . The Light Culture Biennale, Luminale, is held parallel to the Light + Building trade fair every two years in the city. [2] It is a creative platform which make the light professionals and lighting artists, designers, urban planners and architects meet, and gives them an opportunity to illuminate all over the Rhein-Main region collaboratively and innovatively. During the festival, the city becomes an open space to create site specific illuminances. Around 150.000 visitors of the festival witness a colourful ambience around the sky scrapers, on the historical museum buildings, at  the public squares and through the boulevards of the city. That is to say, during the Luminale the light becomes a medium to transform the city into an art space creating  new visual experiences through it.

Hosting also the city theatre, Schauspiel Frankfurt, the underground station at Willy Brandt square is a meeting point of thousands of people during the Luminale. With four entrances and three floors, it is an intersection of six underground metro lines. Within a human traffic, the passers-by's experience of 'the Light at the End of the Tunnel' starts at the entrance of the station with the voices of the actors from the original theatre plays, and with the guidance of floor markings. After walking through these, at the B-level of the station, people encounter a bright, colourful theatre scene with moving stage lights and an eight-meter-long LED panel. It is a set for passengers and passers-by whose audience are  the people driving the escalator. As they move on the stage, they can activate quotes taken from current plays at Schauspiel Frankfurt. By stepping on one of the role markings,  a passer-by can trigger the stage lights which spot him, the LED panel which lights the quote of corresponding character of the role marking, and the sound which is vocalized by the theatre player. In this means, a multimedia performance takes place interactively. A quote from a classical play and another one from a contemporary play were embodied by the participants like a conversation. Similar to the stage at 'Théâtre de l’espace'**, 'spectators experienced the scenes juxtaposed with one another, whether in a planned confluence or a chance intersection of sights, sounds, and narrative.' [3] With this interactive setting, a passer-by creates his/her own theatrical narrative by experimenting different roles of this interactive play. Additionally, s/he can be a part of a common performance where the other fellows act on the stage. In both cases, purposely or unknowingly, people, who only pass by, become the actors or the audiences of a theatre play which narrates 'the moment' in this specific public space.

That is to say, it can be claimed that 'The Light at the End of The Tunnel' is nourished with its potentials in enhancing these moments and in triggering social interaction among people. Besides that, it also sustains the social interaction supporting the social function of its public space as a component of digital interaction. It uses light, sound, graphic  not only as architectural components but it congregates them via interaction and supports the public content of its site. Beside the regular function of this public space, it provides people an opportunity to involve in creating another social layer in this public space. A metro station, as a place where people only go by, is transformed into a public space where an additional social communication level achieved via multimedia. They pause, they share moments and create their own narratives with fellows or with strangers using interaction. They try to catch the stage light on themselves, jumping on to a classical role from a contemporary one to create an absurd dialog or moving continuously  to change the light ambience of the whole room. With the presence of such an interactive installation at a metro station, people become aware of the 'publicness' of this public space that they have already become a part of, and start to construct a new kind of social relation with people around them. It is definitely an physical intervention to their usual, mundane, every day space  which creates awareness via attention, participation, collaboration and performance taking place in this public space.

Thus, 'the Light at the End of the Tunnel'*** becomes also a catalyst to arouse social interaction there. In this sense, this place gains a public layer beside its functionality where people share an experience. In that means, if McLuhan's approach of 'the light as medium itself' is considered, it can be claimed that, 'the Light at the End of the Tunnel' transcends being a 'light bulb' [5] with the communicative exchange with its public. Within a context of a light festival, it intervenes the public space creating a dynamism in social interaction. This is because it is not only site specific in terms of architecture but also site-specific for its social context . With this social-site-specifity, the installation as an 'intervention' in the public space becomes an 'integration' into the public space by stimulating and supporting its publicness.

 

* In this project, ten roles and around fifty quotes from the plays in the April 2010 programm of Schauspiel Frankfurt were selected for the interactive setting. These plays were 'Antigone' of Sophokles, ' Oidipus of Sophokles ', 'Das blaue blaue Meer' of Nis-Momme Stockmann, 'Lulu' of Frank Wedekind, 'Stadt aus Glas' of Paul Auster, ' Phaedra' of Jean Racine and 'Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald' (Anonymous).

** Théâtre de l’espace is an experimental space performance by Architect Edouard Autant and actress Louise Lara. In Gray Read's words this experiment 'used theatre to investigate architecture as an art of situation, of placing people in meaningful spatial relationships with one another. Autant designed the Théâtre de l’espace to model the experience of an urban plaza with multiple, simultaneous scenes that both surrounded and were surrounded by the audience. Performances juxtaposed fictional narratives, improvisation, and real situations to propose a paradigm for public space in a modern, collective society. Through theatre, Autant and Lara investigated architecture not as form but as action, a practice particularly relevant to design in cities.'

***The Light at the End of the Tunnel won the prizes iF Communication Design Award 2011 (Gold-Interactive Installations), German Designers Club Award (Silver-Environmental Design/Architecture), Art Directors Club Germany 2011 (Bronze-Events).

References and Notes: 

  1. Henry Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. D. Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1991), 34.
  2. Luminale 2012's official Web Site, "Luminale 2012 Call for Projects," http://light-building.messefrankfurt.com/frankfurt/en/besucher/events/luminale.html (May 22, 2011).
  3. Gray Read, "Theater of Public Space: Architectural Experimentation in the Théâtre de l'Espace (Theater of Space), Paris 1937," in Journal of Architectural Education 58, no. 4 (2005): 53-62.
  4. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964).
  

Signs of life: robot incubator – an afternoon with the robots

Join us for an afternoon with the robots in the Signs of Life: Robot Incubator exhibition. This special event takes you behind the scenes with the robots, artists and curator and includes artist talks, robot demonstrations and special activities.
Dates: 
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 14:00 - 17:00
Mari Velonaki, Diamandini, 2011-2013.
Mari Velonaki, Diamandini, 2011-2013.
John Tonkin, nervous robots, interactive robotic installation, 2011.
Kirsty Boyle, fragment, 2009-2011.
Kirsty Boyle, tree ceremony, 2011.
Authors: 
Kathy Cleland
Authors: 
Mari Velonaki
Authors: 
John Tonkin
Authors: 
Kirsty Boyle

Join us for an afternoon with the robots in the Signs of Life: Robot Incubator exhibition. This special event takes you behind the scenes with the robots, artists and curator and will include artist talks, robot demonstrations and special activities. Get acquainted  with Mari Velonaki’s humanoid robot Diamandini and contribute to the next stage of her development. Psycholanalyse John Tonkin’s nervous robots and the other robots in the exhibition. Watch a special performance of Kirsty Boyle's robot tree ceremony and interact with her hand crafted fragment robots.

UNCONTAINABLE: Signs of life: robot incubator

DATES: 14.09.2011 - 07.10.2011 TIMES: 10:00 - 19:00
Mari Velonaki, Diamandini, 2011-2013.
Mari Velonaki, Diamandini, 2011-2013.
John Tonkin, nervous robots, interactive robotic installation, 2011.
Kirsty Boyle, fragment, 2009-2011.
Kirsty Boyle, tree ceremony, 2011.
Author(s): 
Kathy Cleland
Author(s): 
Mari Velonaki
Author(s): 
John Tonkin
Author(s): 
Kirsty Boyle

Unlike humans, robots aren’t born biologically. They are designed, built, programmed and incubated by their human parents in a variety of different birthing environments including robotics laboratories, artists’ studios and hobbyists’ back sheds.

Cosmopolitics of Food Interactions: Design Fiction on Food Cults

We will build design prototypes and document design fiction related to future “diet-tribes” and “food-cults” that use emergent technologies for novel dining and social practices related to food.
Dates: 
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 10:00 - 18:00
Secret Cooks Dinner Sous Vide Dinner in Singapore
Authors: 
Denisa Kera
Authors: 
Marc Tuters

Workshop Leader: Denisa Kera, denisa [at] nus.edu.sg
2nd Leader: Marc Tuters, mtuters [at] gmail.com

Sound and Interaction

Migration and Morphing of Sounds in an Interactive Installation by Ioannis Zannos/ The Metapiano: Composing and Improvising Through Sculpture by Richard Hoadley/ VIVO (Video Interactive VST Orchestra) and the aesthetics of interactivity in the age of care-less capitalism by Fabio Paolizzo and Ruth Cain/ Geodesic Sound Helmets by Cara-Ann Simpson, Eva Cheng, Ben Landau and James Laird/ Capturing gestures for expressive sound control by Todor Todoroff and Cécile Picard-Limpens
Dates: 
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:40
Chair Person: 
Geraint Wiggins
Presenters: 
Iannis Zannos
Presenters: 
Richard Hoadley
Presenters: 
Fabio Paolizzo
Presenters: 
Cara-Ann Simpson
Presenters: 
Todor Todoroff
Presenters: 
Ruth Cain
Presenters: 
Eva Cheng
Presenters: 
Cécile Picard-Limpens
Presenters: 
James Laird
Presenters: 
Ben Landau

Migration and Morphing of Sounds in an Interactive Installation

by Ioannis Zannos

Collaborations across Borders: Physical and Disciplinary

Digital Mediterranean and New Media Dialogue by Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio/ ART IN PROCESS – cross-border and beyond by Elisabeth Maria Eitelberger and Bello Benischauer/ Phi territories by Alexandra Antonopoulou and Elenaor Dare/ 
Technology, Creativity and the Artist-led Workshop by Jamie Allen, Rachel Clarke, Kamila Wajda, and Areti Galani/ ZEUGMA by Anna Hatziyiannaki/ Sustaining Creative Relationships across Africa and Europe through Artist-led Innovation by Atau Tanaka and Joelle Bitton
Dates: 
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
Ali Miharbi
Presenters: 
Elisabeth Eitelberger
Presenters: 
Bello Benischauer
Presenters: 
Eleanor Dare
Presenters: 
Jamie Allen
Presenters: 
Rachel Clarke
Presenters: 
Kamila Wajda
Presenters: 
Areti Galani
Presenters: 
Anna Hatziyiannaki
Presenters: 
Atau Tanaka
Presenters: 
Joëlle Bitton

Digital Mediterranean and New Media Dialogue

by Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio

Data Visualization: Practice and Aesthetics

Peripatetic Visualizations by Christina Nguyen Hung/Eye Gaze as a Vehicle for Aesthetic Interaction: Affective Visualisation for Immersive User Experience by Brigitta Zics/ Visualising Emotions and Autism by Barbara Rauch/ Aesthetic 3D Rendering of Historic Shipwrecks (An artist’s intervention in Maritime Archaeology) by Chris Rowland/ 60,000,000 Transactions Later by George Legrady/ 700 Million Miles an Hour and Other Phenomena by Rebecca Cummins
Dates: 
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
Ingrid Holzl
Presenters: 
Christina Nguyen Hung
Presenters: 
Brigitta Zics
Presenters: 
Barbara Rauch
Presenters: 
Chris Rowland
Presenters: 
George Legrady
Presenters: 
Rebecca Cummins

Peripatetic Visualizations

by Christina Nguyen Hung

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