Friday, August 22, 2008

The Pools

The Pool is an interactive art piece designed by Jen Lewin. It is going out to Burning Man and I was able to get a sneak peek before it left Boulder.

The art piece is one of the 2008 Burning Man Honorarium projects and will appear on the Playa at Fairlane and 1:00. The project consists of 100, 3 foot frosted pads. The assembled art piece is a massive 120 x 120 feet.

The pads themselves are packed with the latest technology, a custom Arduino board with wireless Zigbee control, RGB lights and motion sensors. The pads, which look like frisbees and stand about 8 inches off the ground are constructed to handle the interactive nature of Jen's art and the potential for radical weather on the Playa.

When we entered her studio the piece was shimmering different shades of blue mimicking the surface of a pool.

Very quickly it began to change colors as people started to experiment. First stepping softly, then jumping and last leaning from side-to-side, every step causing the art piece to do something different with light and motion.

Like any designer; art, gadget or software, the creator has to understand the audience and with an art piece as large as this one Jen had to overcome several unique interface challenges.
  • Letting the user know they can interact with the art piece
  • Encouraging the user to explore the different input options
  • Handling different amounts of people on the piece at the same time 1 vs. 50 vs. 100
  • The interaction between the people on the art piece
I had fun discovering the pools inside a studio and look forward to experiencing it all over again on the Playa, see you at Burning Man.

1 comment:

Fraser said...

Thanks for posting pictures. Looks beautiful and the challenges of getting it right were not lost (although after reading Kimbal's post I realized I underestimated the physical challenge required in getting it right).

I'd be interested in hearing how Jen and her team eventually did figure out the UI problems that they faced, especially how they encourage the user to explore the different input options.

Thanks again for the pics - be safe and have fun!