June 8, 2008
I was very fortunate to work on the centerpiece installation for the 2008 edition of Toronto’s Luminato arts festival. It consisted of 250 6-foot balloons strung in a canopy above Yonge-Dundas Square. Each of those balloons had a bright LED lamp inside that could be tuned to produce any colour of light. The physical installation was created and executed by KPMB Architects and we (myself, David McCallum & Gabe Sawhney) were brought in to add interactivity to the lighting system.
We developed a sound-reactive system to convert sounds in the square into patterns of light rippling through the balloons overhead. A series of microphones suspended amongst the balloons captured the ambient sounds and channeled that data back out again as ripples, sparks and flashes of light.
Developing interactive for crowds is hard. It’s hard to make clear the connection between what an individual is doing and the response of the system. Honestly, the most satisfying time to experience was late at night when the square was largely deserted and we were still up testing modifications for the next day. Occasionally a person or two would wander through the square and, discovering they could control this huge beautiful thing with just their voice, they would experience the kind of joy that’s the grail of doing this kind of work.
some of the video footage © Deiren Masterson 2008
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