This research employs interactive public video projection to explore emerging social constructions involving play and ad hoc communities. In these installations the viewer is encouraged to participate in unstructured play. As with every interactive experience (and in fact, most other things in life) there is the initial satisfaction resulting from simply figuring out how one’s decisions, gestures and actions cause reactions and create effects in the surrounding environment.
The interplay of scale – the small screen in the palm of one’s hand contrasted with the large public screen on the facade of a building – parallels other central human experiences. The intimacy of touch, for example, is contrasted by the dominance of projected, broadcast visual stimuli, while the screen – the sign – forms a kind of text waiting to be read. Your personal space simultaneously shrinks and expands as the tiny gestures you make with your fingers are magnified for all to see. Public and private stand in stark contrast, highlighting dichotomies like wireless and wired, perception and cognition, knowing and being.
Operating from within the crowd, viewers or players had the opportunity to step onto the stage of the projected environment – to display themselves in action, engaged with other virtual beings. Movements, gestures and displays become part of this spontaneous public performance, suggestive of the activity on a dance floor, where typical rules about decorum, reservation, engagement with strangers and physical contact are suspended. Each private, gestural experience is amplified publicly as a by-product of being within a crowd. Taking action in public in this way constitutes one layer in the creation of community. Our behaviours and others’ meld to generate simultaneous effects, creating a joint awareness that forms the cornerstone of our collectivity.
Play is presented as a free-form, creative activity – a childlike enthrallment with exploration, skill-learning and sharing. The scale and location of the displays encourages parallel play and the growing awareness of the activities of other players nearby. The public nature of the experience creates the opportunity for ambient performance, where other players’ awareness of you subtly influences and rewards your behaviour. Finally, these factors combine with the ambiguous structures and activities built into each project to encourage social play and collaboration in an emerging, shared activity.
Talk to Me, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA, July – November 2011
Transmission, GLOBAL SUMMIT 2011, Victoria, Canada, February 2011
MediaCity 2010, Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany, October 2010
Festival du nouveau cinema, Montreal, Canada, October 2010
Mobilefest, Museum of Image and Sound, Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 2010
Nuit Blanche, Lennox Contemporary Gallery, Toronto, Canada, October 2009
Geoffrey Shea and Michael Longford. Large Screens and Small Screens: Public and Private Engagement with Urban Projections. Media City: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena. J. Geelhaar, F. Eckardt, B. Rudolf, S. Zierold, M. Markert (Eds.) Bauhaus-Universität, Weimar, Germany, 201-210, 2010
Geoffrey Shea, Michael Longford, Elaine Biddiss. Art and Play in Interactive Projections: Three Perspectives. ISEA, Istanbul, 2011
Geoffrey Shea and Michael Longford. Identity Play in an Artistic, Interactive Urban Projection. CHI Workshop: Large Displays in Urban Life, Vancouver, 2011
M. Longford, Connecting Talent in Digital Media, MITACS and the NCE GRAND, Mississauga, Canada, September 2010
M. Longford, “Digital Media: Successes and Accomplishments in Canadian Digital Media Research,” Canada 3.0, Stratford, Canada, May 2010
R. King, International Centre for Art and New Technologies (CIANT), Prague, Czech Republic, March 2010
G. Shea, Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC), Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, Canada, February 2010
G. Shea, M. Longford, R. King, Discovery 2010, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Toronto, Canada, May 2010
R. King, Music in a Global Village Conference, Budapest, Hungary, December 2009
M. Longford, G. Shea, iPhone Developer's Group, Augmented Reality Lab, York University, Toronto, Canada, November 2009
M. Longford, Project Demonstration - A New Media Gathering, Town of Markham, Markham, Canada – October 2009
M. Longford, “Tentacles: Design, Technology and Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Mobile Media Lab” PEKING/YORK SYMPOSIUM: Interdisciplinarity, Art and Technology, York University, Toronto, Canada, October 2009
G. Shea, “Artifact or Experience: Presenting Network Mediated Objects,” Interacting with Immersive Worlds, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada, June 2009