Translating Digital Concepts into Real World Objects


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I have a huge soft spot for art projects that deal with the translation of digital concepts into real world objects. I'd like to showcase two such projects I've come across recently.

The first one comes by the way of France. One of the most widely used illusions in projection mapping is "the undulating square grid"i.e:


The French laboratory for architecture and urbanism 'LAb[au]' recently created a permanent kinetic light installation for 'La Maison Mécatronique' in Annecy-Le-Vieux, where they decided to make this illusionary cliché into a real world object. Powered by a huge array of linear actuators pushing and pulling a set of physical tiles individually. The motion of the squares are controlled using the classic 'game of life' rules resulting in a wide ranging set of geometric patterns changing almost endlessly. To complete the piece the wall is illuminated by an array of LED rails in the primary colours (RGB) - resulting at first in a simple white surface lighting, but when the tiles move and cast their shadows the nature of the light becomes apparent in the beautiful multicoloured shadows.

The second project is the 'Analogue Particle Screen' by Austrian artist Robert Mathy. Particle systems are widely used in computer graphics and the sciences to simulate certain kinds of phenomena - usually highly chaotic natural phenomena, such as fire, explosions, smoke, moving water, clouds, dust and galaxies - or for completely abstract visual effects (like *shameless plug* in some of my own work:

In this piece, Mathy wants to reverse this workflow - attempting to imitate the visual appearance of programmed particle systems in a real life setting.

Small particles are located between two acrylic plates. A matrix of van der graff generators are placed under the screen which causes the plates to get charged with electrostatic energy. This causes the particles to move in swarms, attracting and repelling from each other. Furthermore the audience can interact with the particles by disturbing the electrostatic field when they touch the screen. Wonderful stuff.