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Strings of Light Dance to Your Touch in This New Interactive Installation

New media artist ecco screen’s interactive light installation, 'strands,' debuted at the Next Art Night show in Los Angeles.

Computer-generated strings of light wiggle and shake in response to your movements in strands, the new interactive light installation from ecco screen. The behavior and and physics of each string in installation is a reaction to the viewer’s presence, each line responding in its own unique way so the appearance of the project’s unbalanced bedsheet facade never repeats itself.

strands was created using custom software the artist wrote in Processing. ecco screen used a blob-tracking device and an Xbox Kinect to pinpoint the user’s position in front of the piece. Thus, the viewer’s physical presence affects the strands in front of them. As viewers pace back and forth, they create what the artist describes as “an effect that resembles running your hand across a harp.”

ecco screen only had one week to put the project together, so “it had to be something simple, minimalistic, but wet at the same time,” he tells The Creators Project via email. At the start of the project, his first priority was to explore all the different possibilities he could explore in terms of the project’s visual element. 

strands was presented as part of the Next Art Night show, an experimental art and technology exhibition curated by Natalie Sun in Los Angeles. The show featured work from artists including cabbibo and kyttenjanae and anticipated up to 700+ attendees, putting pressure on ecco screen to create an interactive piece that could function for many people at once. He didn't want people to have to line up in order to play with it, so instead he turned to lines.

During the post-production process, ecco screen ran the whole sketch through CoGe, a comparative genomics platform, to add visual effects and to create the installation’s metallic look. The physics and visual parameters were then put through Vezer, an audiovisual, timeline-based midi sequencer that would morph the appearance of strands over time, allowing it to take on a life of its own.

After consulting with Natalie Sun and the video projection mapping artist collective, Mapjacks, ecco screen decided to use a rear projection onto a fabric screen. Check out strands' majestic results in the footage below: 

In the future, ecco screen hopes to take strands on tour. To find out more, head over to his website.

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