The Sprout Fund 10th anniversary mural offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage the Pittsburgh community in a dynamic, self-sustaining public artwork for the 21st century. Play, social interaction, and audience participation underlie my team's approach to public art. By combining digital, analog and green technologies we seek ways the audience can participate in seeing and making videos on a level that physically engages them with the digital media and the perception of color and light. In my previous animated murals at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, White Light (2008-present) Motion Machine (2010), Silly Faces (2010) and Color Exercises (2010), shadow play or the recording of live video allows visitors to see themselves projected on the site. These interactive artworks invite the creative participation of each viewer. The audience is prompted by the projections, stage lighting and props to perform, reacting to the video as they are processed into its subject. The projected video responds and changes in real time, responding to the bodily interactions of multiple users and creating a visceral physical connection between the moving image and the viewers/participants. Everyone is a star. The art is an open work, completed by the viewers, designed to be intuitive so that all ages can participate. Custom software enables collaboration with the audience, creating an evolving animated mural, blurring the line between artist, performer, and spectator. The interaction makes a fun, social and potentially intimate relationship between the audience playing and the video technology. The concept that the audience participates in making the artwork rather than passively watching is integral to how we believe art can function in a public space. The spectators turn into the sculpture. The action of the viewers creating and rendering their own image in an interactive mural is a type of "reclamation” and it gives the community a sense of power over the image and the public space. By creating an interactive electronic media piece that utilizes green energy systems, it reflects the new Pittsburgh as both high tech and sustainable.
As the artist/team leader I have organized a team of talented people to support my work for this new mural project, all whom I have worked with before with successful results:
Anne Fullencamp (designer/architect) from the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh will provide advice and consultation on the design and how to best use the space.
Mike Bonello (filmmaker/musician) from Pittsburgh Filmmakers will provide advice and consultation on the technical aspects of the video.
James Perkins (electrical engineer/solar energy expert) my collaborator for Richmond's InLight 2009 "Best in Green" award will provide a design for a solar energy power source.

Video List

1. Silly Faces, two channel interactive video (2010)
Materials: 2 projectors, mini arcade booth with camcorder, computer, microcontroller, light, color backdrop

Silly Faces is an interactive video installation in which the viewers create their own 5 second movie. The video uploads immediately to a grid on the wall, an animated mosaic of faces. Everyone is a star. The video mural shows the 65 most recent videos, moving portraits of the audience looping back and forth. It creates a situation for the viewer to record their own video and participate in the art. The documentation in the video is from August 2010. During the Silly Faces exhibition over 100,000 movies were recorded at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh creating a database of the museum visitors creative input. Silly Faces is currently available for rental through the Children’s Museum traveling exhibitions program for $12,500 for a 12 week rental. Silly Faces was commissioned for the show Yinz Play by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh with a $2,500 budget.

2. Motion Machine, two channel interactive video (2010)

Materials: computer, 2 projectors, microcontroller, led, camcorder, tumbling mat, various props (flags and hulahoop)


Participants motion triggers a 7 second video recording that appears on the wall staggered 12 times in red, green, and blue - the primary colors of light. Where the videos overlap the color additively combines to form cyan, magenta and yellow. The time stagger in the video is inspired by Norman Mclaren's dancers in Pas de deux and Étienne-Jules Marey and his physical movement studies of the human body. 
 Custom software allows for the audience and the artist to collaborate in making the animated mural. A red LED lights up when the camera is recording. Each interaction results in a movie that is saved on a database in the computer. The work was currently on view from September 8 2010 – September 6 2011. Over 150,000 movies were created during its exhibition. Motion Machine was created during a Tough Art residency (2010) at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh with a $4,000 budget.

3. Color Exercises, Three channel interactive video (2010)

Materials: 3 projectors, computer, camcorder, props, wall or screen dimensions variable


Viewer/participant's motion triggers a short recording and uploads to the wall as a fullscreen video in red, green or blue. The projections form an animated mural of figures in motion. The video documentation above is from a prototype test at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh on July 9, 2010 during my Tough Art residency.

4. Lighter and Lighter, Three channel kinetic video sculpture (2010)
Materials: computer, digital video, motorized pedestals for three projectors, microcontroller; wall or screen dimensions variable.

Trapeze Artist: Suzanne Cub
Vibraphone: Lauren Kosty

Rotating projectors mix three videos to form hypnotic images of the human figure, exploring how we see color in video and multiplying the frame from a single image to a triptych video. A trapeze artist fuses from red green and blue channels into a full color image in the physical space of the room. The mechanical device I built to separate the image allows the audience to see the process of how a full spectrum video is created by light. The analog compositing of the projections is similar to digital process only it doesn't work as perfectly, leaving edges of rainbows and giving only moments of complete alignments.

5. White Light (phase 1), Three channel kinetic video sculpture (2008-present)
Materials: motors, pedestals, 3 projectors, computer, wall or screen dimensions variable
Rotating projectors mix three abstract animations to form a triptych light painting, building white light from its component colors. The animations are patterns of dots, stripes, and blocks of color. As the viewers interrupt the projections, their multicolored shadows appear on the wall. Documentation is from summer 2009 at the Children’s museum of Pittsburgh during my Fine Artist residency. White Light is currently available for rental through the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s outreach program and will travel to schools and early childhood development centers for free this October with funding through the Sprout Fund’s Spark grant.

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