Google et l’artiste Janet Echelman imaginent une sculpture interactive pour l’anniversaire des conférences TED. Unnumbered Sparks est le nom de cette étrange sculpture de fibres textiles. Suspendue au dessus du Convention Center à Vancouver où se déroulent les conférences TED, celle-ci offre un spectacle de lumières aux passants. Aaron Koblin, directeur de Création chez Google, a rendu l’oeuvre de Janet Echelman interactive. En effet, ceux qui le désirent peuvent se connecter à Unnumbered Sparks grâce à un site web mobile et influencer sa lumière. Cette oeuvre collaborative, mêlant technologie, divertissement et design, est la representation parfaite des conférences TED.
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These were some of the comments heard at TED2014 about Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, a collaboration between sculptor Janet Echelman and data artist Aaron Koblin. This monumental sculpture stretched 745 feet, from the Vancouver Convention Centre where TED was held, over an open-air plaza on the edge of Vancouver Harbor and up to the top of the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. Every night while the temporary sculpture was installed, from March 15-22, 2014, dozens of people could be seen across the street setting up cameras and tripods to capture the glowing spectacle. Meanwhile, underneath the sculpture, even greater numbers of people gathered, most of them with their phones out. Using a phone, they could draw lines, squiggles, webs, and water drop rings onto the sculpture’s lush purples, blues, pinks and oranges. Aaron Koblin: Visualizing ourselves … with crowd-sourced data Aaron Koblin: Visualizing ourselves … with crowd-sourced data Koblin, of Google’s Data Arts Team, told us a little about how it worked.

“The lighting on the sculpture is actually a giant website,” Koblin says. “It’s one huge Google Chrome window spread across five HD projectors. The content is being rendered in WebGL. It uses Javascript and shaders to render particles and sprites based on user motion, which is transmitted from mobile browser to our rendering browser via websockets. There are a lot of moving pieces here, from the local area network to the server (written in Go), to the sound system (also running in Chrome with Web Audio API) all the way through the LED light control system, which pulls pixel data directly from the browser.”

The end result: Viewers of the art were also a part of its creation, swiping and tapping on their screen to change the piece overhead. (You at home can get a taste of what the experience was like using this interactive WebGL model of the sculpture.)

“A social space that is simultaneously physical and virtual” – art critic Mary Louise Schumacher

Studio Echelman installed its largest, most interactive sculpture installation to date at the TED Conference’s 30th anniversary, March 2014. The monumental aerial sculpture spanned 745 feet between the 24-story Fairmont Waterfront and the Vancouver Convention Center, challenging the artist to work on her most ambitious scale yet – over twice the size of her largest previous sculpture.

The sculpture was presented with an original, interactive work created in collaboration with artist Aaron Koblin, Creative Director of the Data Arts Team in Google’s Creative Lab. At night the sculpture came to life as visitors were able to choreograph the lighting in real time using physical gestures on their mobile devices. Vivid beams of light were projected across a massive scale as the result of small movements on spectators’ phones.

In the daytime, the sculpture’s delicate yet monumental form is subtle, blending in with clouds and sky. A complex matrix of 860,000 hand and machine-made knots and 145 miles of braided fiber weighing nearly 3,500 pounds span 745 feet to make up Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks.

In order to achieve such scale and complexity, Echelman turned to Autodesk, a leader in 3D design software that seeks out interesting design problems. Autodesk collaborated with Studio Echelman to create custom 3D software to model the sculpture and test its feasibility. “The software has allowed me to explore density, shape, and scale in much greater detail,” says Echelman. “We can manipulate our designs and see the results immediately. We’re able to push the boundaries of our designs further.”

Made entirely of soft fibers, the sculpture can attach directly into existing city architecture. To support the artwork across such a large span, Echelman utilized Honeywell Spectra fiber, a lightweight, durable material 15 times stronger than steel by weight. It is designed to travel to cities around the globe after the 2014 TED Conference exhibition as an “idea worth spreading.”

This project embodies the infusion of art and technology, as both continuously evolve together. “I want people to feel protected, yet linked to open sky,” says Echelman. “I hope that visitors feel more connected to those around them – to neighbors and strangers.”

The title of the sculpture, ‘Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks’, refers to a quotation from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. Through the interactive lighting component, each person can choreograph light onto the artwork and “it’s about each one of us being one of those stars – those sparks – and being able to paint the skies,” says Echelman.

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MATERIALS AND SIZE

Twisted nylon, braided polyester, Honeywell Spectra fiber, and interactive, colored lighting
Dimensions of Net: 300 ft. length x 110 ft. width x 40 ft. depth
Installation Dimensions: 745 ft. length x 475 ft. width x 175 ft. height

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Valéry Girou

Valéry Girou

D.A. / DIGITAL / WEB / PRINT / Co-fondateur du site ELECTRICNEWS.fr / Consultant & Formateur Digital / Web / Print

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