Looking Out 01 – Morgan

Outdoor Inhouse
Bathroom stall installation

Outdoor Inhouse was an in-house (ha) installation created by Intermedio Studios in 2016 to simulate the almost forgotten act of relieving oneself outside, but in a public bathroom. Motion sensors detected when someone entered a bathroom stall, and then played a field recording taken from outside an actual outhouse in rural Ohio. The installation was meant to target “the controlled, plastic quality of contemporary elimination and it’s isolation from natural environments, while referencing a recently abandoned architectural staple of daily life prior to indoor plumbing.”

I was drawn to this project because it is almost entirely opposite to a typical work of media architecture, which tends to invoke High Art and High Tech. Outdoor Inhouse forces participants to reexamine a mundane act of everyday life in a location where the average person is not “primed” to experience a work of media.

Outdoor Inhouse


SUN was a project created by Dutch artist Philip Schutte as a playful exercise in self-generated landscapes. Sensors capture the movement of a giant ball controlled by the user, and reflect and distort light through the “atmosphere” backdrop based on the ball’s relative position to the horizon.

I particularly like SUN because of the artist’s fascination with world-building. According to the an interview in the Creative Applications blog, Schuette was inspired by rendering algorithms for world generation in a video game. Because the position of the sun has such a powerful emotional effect on people, the ability to move the sun and alter the emotional landscape of a scene is a way for the user to create a personalized emotive environment.

Philip Schuette

Looking Out 01

Stella Artois: Give Beautifully

This interactive light installation was designed by UNIT9 for Stella Artois’ global Christmas campaign ‘Give Beautifully’. It was released December of 2015. The concept was to create a space that gave city dwellers a canopy of stars that they otherwise would not be able to experience due to the mass amount of lights in the city during the night.


The installation is 20m x 20m and consists of clusters of interactive and kinetic stars. The floor is made of glass so the stars can reflect off of it and double the impact of the stars: creating a sense of infinite amount of stars.

There were three types of stars that differed in sizes and functionality: largest ones were kinetic globes; small static globes; and a cloth dotted with hundreds of LEDs stars. When the audience raised their arms towards the sky, the movement triggers the large stars to descend down towards them.

Five of the large kinetic stars were extra special. When the audience reaches for one of those particular stars, they flash white and a hidden camera captures a picture of the people reaching up from below.


The Event of a Thread

This installation by Ann Hamilton was shown at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. The center piece of this installation involves 42 swings hung from the ceiling. The swings are divided into two fields by a large white curtain that bisects a 55,000 sq.ft. hall.  The swings are connected to each other and the curtain via ropes and pulleys. A visitor’s momentum on the swing  activates a rolling undulation of the curtain. The two fields of swings mirror each other so when corresponding swings are moving at the same time, the undulation of the curtain is enhanced.

Artist Website

Hyperallergic Article

Looking Out 01

The Heart Archive – Christian Boltanski

French artist Cristian Boltanski started this project in 2008, collecting people’s heartbeats around the world as a proof of their existence. The Heart Archive, a small single-installation museum on Teshima Island in Japan, is a site to permanently store and display these heartbeats. Visitors can also record their own heartbeat on site.

The exhibition is made up of three rooms. Recording Room collects visitors’ heartbeat; Listening Room has three computers where you can listen to recorded heartbeats in the archive; Heart Room, which is the most experiential among the three, plays heartbeats from different people, with a light beaming in synchronization with the heartbeats. You will see your own reflection in the mirrors on the wall, in the flickering light.

This project creates a conversation that transcends time and space, in forms of both collective memory and personal narrative. Heartbeat is the very representation of life, and also one of the most intimate sounds of a human body. Listening to the heartbeats was like experiencing the liveliness of another human being.

Listening Room

Heart Room

Volume – SOFTlab

Volume is designed by New York based design firm SOFTlab, using responsive mirrors to “redirect light and sound to spatialize and reflect the excitement of surrounding festival goers(Volume-SOFTlab)”. The installation is comprised of 100 mirror panels with an array of cameras to track the movement of people around the installation. The mirrors will turn to the nearest person, while the sound increases volume when more people approach the project. The light reacts to the ambient sound in the space.

This installation is an experiment using lights and sounds to reconstruct the empty room and blur the lines between ephemeral and physical space. Instead of simply responding to viewer’s movement, it creates a bilateral conversation by staring back at viewers and collaging the viewer’s image back into the space reconstructed by their movement. It not only manifest small vibration of invisible particles floating in the space, but also creates a strong self-awareness of one’s own being.

Looking Out 01 – Leah Jiang



A walking trail through a forest of light and sound that became a tourist destination.
Wanting to showcase its charms, Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook commissioned Moment Factory to create Foresta Lumina, an illuminated night walk through the forest.
After nightfall in summer, visitors are invited to discover an enchanted trail winding 2 km through the woods. As they walk through the mysterious forest, visitors meet characters inspired by the area’s myths and legends, who draw them into an immersive adventure.

The scenography, combining projections and lighting, is accompanied by an ethereal soundtrack. The result is an unparalleled sensory experience. The Moment Factory team custom-made the entire experience, including perforated metal panels resembling ancient manuscripts, lighting units designed to look like fairies, video mapping on natural elements and more. The multimedia installations are seamlessly integrated into the surroundings, creating an all-encompassing sense of magic.

Following 2014’s success, counting over 70 000 visitors – nearly ten times more than the initially estimated foot traffic – Foresta Lumina has once again surpassed its set objectives with more than 145 000 visitors for its second consecutive year. This installation has allowed for a 1800% traffic increase in the region of Coaticook.


LIGHTGRENZE (Border of Lights)

Light art installation for 25 years fall of the Berlin Wall

This installation was built to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, as creative directors, Christopher Bauder and his brother Marc were commissioned by the city of Berlin to create an extraordinary light installation.

From Nov 7th to 9th 2014, the 15.3-kilometre frontier that once divided the city center was reimagined in light by 8000 balloon lights all developed and produced by WHITEvoid.



Looking Out 01 – nsridhar

Curiosity Cloud – mischer’traxler Studio
(Dezeen Article)

This installation is an interactive design piece that uses lighting and sound in combination with infrared sensors to create an interactive soundscape that is activated by the audience. The piece consists of 264 blown-glass bulbs that are suspended from the ceiling at different heights and have a ring of LEDs to give the illusion of light bulbs. The glass bulbs contain hand-fabricated “insects” that start flying around when people approach the bulbs. Additionally the bulbs light up and the movement of the insects within the bulbs creates a unique soundscape that changes based on which bulbs are active and how the insects are moving.

The installation stands out as a piece that uses lighting as a backdrop to create a more rich human experience. As the bulbs light up, viewers are drawn to the insects, which are in turn moving in response to the audience approaching them. This develops an interesting call and response pattern which allows people to engage with the piece in multiple ways. Additionally the changes in height make it more accessible for children as well as taller adults by holding some bulbs at their eye-levels. There is a passive experience gained by watching the installation light up and produce a soundscape as throngs of people travel through it, but also a more direct experience that comes from people approaching different insects that appeal to them and seeing that they are the ones bringing the installation to life.

Light Pollination – Universal Assembly Unit
(Dezeen Article)

This installation uses LED lighting and fiber optics along with hidden photosensors that take in outside light and create light trails that ripple throughout the LEDs in the installation. There are around 20,000 individual points of LED lights that are articulated and controlled by custom built software that takes input from the sensors and “pollinates” it across the installation by causing the LEDs to light up in bursts. The movement and intensity of these ripples and bursts is determined by the intensity of the light being shone onto the sensors.

This piece functions slightly differently as a passive piece than it does as an interactive one. If someone without a light approaches it they can still have casual interactions with the piece by watching the light pulsate and running their hands through the fiber optics. In addition they can cast shadows over the installation and manipulate it to some minimal effect by reducing the light some of the sensors receive. However, the active viewer is able to create multiple different reactions using their phone or some other light source by moving further or closer to the installation or by changing the brightness of their device in addition to these passive interactions. The installation mimics human interactions with nature, revealing certain interactions that we know well but hiding certain mechanisms, such as in the opaqueness of the programming and the hiding of the sensors. Just as the average person knows that moths are attracted to light and that a firefly can light up without necessarily knowing the science behind it, this installation creates a spectacle and invokes a sense of wonder by hiding just enough of how it works from the viewer.

Looking Out 01

Anechoic Chamber, South Bank University, London

As the name suggest, the chamber is designed to be echo-free or non reflective for sound waves. Traditionally, developed to conduct a wide variety of sound related experiments, this chamber provides an experience where all the sound energy transmitted from the source travels away from the source and non is reflected back to it. The anechoic chamber in South Bank University provides a surreal experience, where all previously unperceived notions of sound become apparent. Such as sound of blood flowing through the body, thumping of heartbeats and by spending few minutes in the chamber, one becomes hyper-aware of their body and its existence with relation to the space around.

Link to project page: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/case-studies/acoustics-anechoic-reverberation-chamber


Anechoic Chamber, South Bank University, London

Backside Of The Moon, Naoshima

Back of The Moon is one of many other architectural treasures on Japans’s “Art Island”. Its is a timber clad structure with a pitch black interior which renders you blind till the time your eyes slowly start adjusting to the practically no light environment. Eventually, as your eyes begins to adjust, you begin to get a sense of environment around you and the painstakingly detailed eerie grey light installations become visible. This structure represents the essence of how light and darkness can be harnessed to create truly powerful experiences.

Link to project page: http://jamesturrell.com/work/backsideofthemoon/

Backside of The Moon, Naoshima



Looking Out 01

Liquid Shards – Patrick Shearn (Poetic Kinetics)
This piece uses mylar and monofilament to float above LA, creating a sliver water/wave-like mass. The form changes, shifts, ungulates based on the wind. As it dances above the pedestrians walking beneath, the shadow and form it creates on the surface below is just as whimsical.

Shearn’s work is particularly striking, because is is rather simple in it’s form and technology. It’s just a few materials and wind that bring this piece to life and encourage passive interaction, meant to be enjoyed from the offices above as well as the people below. In a Colossal article on the piece, they highlight Shearn’s intentions well, “it is when things are zoomed in or slowed down that we begin to understand the workings of the plants and animals around us, and sense the movements that are imperceptible with our limited vision.”

Silver wave installation above LA
Liquid Shard – Patrick Shearn

Interactive Queue Lines – Disney
I am writing this post from Disney (which certainly influenced my choice in this second selection) and for years I have been following the way they use technology in their queue lines. They have found a need to incorporate more and more interactive spaces as thousands of quests, wait thousands of hours in lines. As they renovate old rides/shows or build new ones, there is one constant, they bring an interactive element to the queue lines. Each one is themed and very specific to their particular setting, they are meant to entertain and bring a sense of magic or wonder to all that interact with them.

These queue lines incorporate not only a assortment of different technologies, from screens to built physical forms, but many require physical interaction—both actively and passively. Some queues invite the guest to play games, while others might reveal a surprise. Some are close and able to be touched directly, while others are further away and react to the whole body. All of this innovation to help pass the time, it makes me wonder what other applications spaces and experiences like this can have.


XYZT: Abstract Landscapes — Artechouse (https://artechouse.com/) 
I stumbled upon this project recently and decided to add it into this Looking Out. The ways they use space and time to manipulate the landscape and promote interactions is mesmerizing.

The exhibit “exploit[s] ancient techniques of illusion and endless possibilities of modern technology.” I think one of the interesting things with the more abstract forms is that they allow for both passive and active interactions.


Looking Out 01

Light Festival in Tadasu no Mori


This project was created by teamLab, a Japanese art collective. It is located in Shinto Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. It makes use of lights, sounds, and light-emitting balloons. The trees lining the path to the shrine will pulse and change color when approached. The balloons hover over the space, changing color and playing sounds when touched. This project is important because it combines traditional cultural elements and sacred space with new technologies to evoke new or enhanced feelings. The lights promote inter-connectivity with the environment, boosting the atmosphere of the Shinto shrine.

Floating Flower Garden


This project was also created by teamLab. The dense garden opens up as visitors approach. As the visitors pass by, the masses of flowers and foliage close behind them. A hemispherical space of flowers is created, constantly enveloping the visitor wherever they walk. The flowers are also live, incorporating real scents and insect sounds. This is an important project because it involves live, organic materials to create a special space for visitors. While the visitor will walk to different areas of the garden, they will always be surrounded by walls of plants that yield to their desired pathways.

Looking Outwards 01

Place des Arts, Montreal, QC /// 2016


Motion triggered see-saws bring childlike life to the side walk in Montreal. The public is invited to activate the installation by mounting the see-saws; the intensity of light and pitch of the sound is varied by the high and speed at which the see-saws are ridden. When not in use they return to a mute, low light horizontal state and have two options for play: formal and informal.

Formal play is structural, it challenges the audience to re-create a performance, with previous knowledge of who the other players are. Informal play is organized chaos, seemingly uncoordinated movement creates beautifully coordinated music and light shows for the onlooker. This project is a innovative way to open up the lines of communication between strangers, not just through words, but through the silent language that is shared experience. Play testers make the conscious agreement to leave embarrassment, pretentiousness and fear at the door when they enter this space. They open themselves up to the influence of others and together create awesome, interactive light and sound pieces.


Conversation Domes

Jessica Frelinghuysen

Inside each dome is a voice or voices that are trying to talk to the other domes. Each dome embodies a person, and the viewer may simply listen or talk back. The sound inside the domes is added to by the noise around them, during peak times the user is surrounded by a cacophony sound.

Complete privacy is a thing of the past. Conversations are recorded actively and passively and are playback-able at anytime by any person. What sort of sounds, what snippets of information about other people can we gain from standing still for a moment.

Victoria Yong: Looking Out 01


This Valentine’s Day installation in Times Square was designed by the famous international architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in collaboration with smaller local firms in New York City. It is made of several transparent LED-lit acrylic tubes in a cubical pattern that surround a suspended sculpture of a giant red heart. To make the heart pulse with light, users place their hands on a touch pad that can sense their heartbeat near the installation. Joining hands with other people while touching the sensor speeds up the pulsing light pattern and intensifies the brightness.

This installation is a simple but clever idea that not only encourages interaction, but collaboration among its users. Its performance varies depending on how many people touch the heartbeat sensor, which would prompt users to try interacting or holding hands to see the different outcomes of this giant box of light. This piece can be engaged with in many different social settings instead of being a solitary experience for one user at a time. Additionally, the giant heart encompasses the spirit of Times Square and Valentine’s Day when it’s literally powered by the energy of the people who experience it.

Rendering of installation.
Photograph of lights and sensor.




Mesa Musical Shadows

This installation is a series of light sensors in a colorful geometric pattern on the ground that play different musical tracks when triggered by a shadow. The music played depends on the time of day and the darkness of the shadow cast on the sensor. One can also step on the sensors to play sounds. Each set of songs creates a specific atmosphere for the four different times of day. It was created by Daily tous les jours studio from Montreal and made for the Mesa Arts Center in Arizona.

The intelligent output of this project is incredibly rich and detailed. The sensors select from a wide range of songs programmed with MaxMSP for each quarter of the day and constantly recalibrate themselves to determine the specific values of shadows as the natural light changes over time. The hardware is also impressive, as the speakers had to be carefully installed underground and each of the 47 PCBs for the sensors was custom made. The project faced many practical challenges such as preventing water from entering the speakers and having easily removable hardware for city inspections. This installation is worth discussing because of how much complexity and consideration goes into creating something so simple and whimsical.

Construction photo of the installation.
Exploded and constructed axons of light sensor.