By traversing art, design and technology, these provocative experiential installations are driven by a shared curiosity and desire to make sense of our lives.
Artistic directors, lead programmers, and designers collaborate over months on the projects, from the initial concept to the final physical realisation.
This is far more than just an experiential art hub.
Sorry, got carried away there, it's just me, putting stuff on the wall and each took me about a month to design and build, but that's boring. They are all time based media, the wall space being donated by previous installations now on the bonfire and each is named by the month in which they were made. No computers, each has a 79p microprocessor to do the work.
Anyway, the Infrared environment is the art, each piece simply interprets the changes in that particular environment, a change specifically in proportion to the number of infrared photons from predefined areas around the canvas. It is great fun to watch how young and old interact with the works, most seem to adjust both the speed and way they interact with every piece.
The canvases respond differently to how changes in their infrared environment are to be interpreted. It sounds complex but it isn't. You let the art decide what is normal, this takes a while, most settle after about 20 seconds. Then it is simply “how do I interpret a change”. Say a cloud moves across the sky, and in the case of “March” which views a reflection of the sky, colours change across the canvas in response to the movement of the cloud. It is that simple, the interpretation in the change in the infrared profile across the view is the art. “March” simply enables us to view the change. Of course we can also just jump in front and do silly stuff with our warm hands but who would do that?
Here are the reference design details of the pieces currently in our front room. Without kids playing with them they do seem a bit boring. But hey, it's just my technical reference.
As you move across the canvas “December” interprets your location by creating a sweeping wave as your shadow.
Technicals. Opposite facing magnets in the ends of the dials are located by hall sensors between the dials to establish a default location. The infrared profile is simply interpreted as left or right side, and the dials rotate in both a horizontal and vertical delayed motion, which we interpret as a wave.
Best viewed from a distance, half a mile works well.
With a flash and a bang "January" predicts your next move. A close sweep of the canvas gives a background to the chase.
Technicals. 64 areas in front of the canvas are infrared scanned as an 8x8 matrix. As the profile changes “January” responds with a simple interpretation of your next location and a short sound.
Each disk also has a capacitive sensor triggered by a hand placed within 5mm of the surface and there are several combinations of colours and designs of disks which ”January” interprets as linked triggers. With a close sweeping action “January” creates an interpretation of links to produce a basic image on the canvas.
A very free image interpretation and lots of running and jumping are required.
Spring has arrived early, and “February” wants to say hello. Initially the inner petal is green, the middle yellow and the outer edge white. But “February" senses your presence and responds to your kindness.
Technicals. Using a 60 degree cone in front of the canvas “February” analyses infrared changes which trigger the petals to blend to white. If you stay motionless “February” interprets you as part of the background. When you move again the petals blend to green. Finally returning to the original green, yellow, and white. After a minute the petals change again, an outer leaf becomes green and an inner leaf becomes blue, the 12 petals become our analogue clock. Each 5 minutes the green outer petal ticks to the next petal, as does the inner leaf on each hour. With new infrared activity “February” reinstates the petal display.
But the standing still is the difficult bit.
Six colours are used by “March” to represent the infrared photons of daylight. The three primary's and their complementaries move in phase with the changing scene.
Technicals. Using the infrared profile of daylight as seen by 8 vertical slices of the photon detector "March" adjust the canvas. The colours alter with changes in the profile but the interpretation by “March” limits the total illuminated area of the canvas. Panels previously set are disabled to allow new areas to light whilst capping the overall brightness. This could better be achieved by dimming earlier panels, but it is, as is. When walking past the canvas, parts of your body interact with the daylight infrared to also change the colours of panels. If you stand stationary “March” interprets you being part of the background, and now the panels will only change if you or the sky alter. Great in real life and rubbish on camera. Even with the iris 3 stops down the colours on the video look terrible.
But like all interactive art, it comes alive when viewed in person, grand children first.
"April" is for the grandchildren.
Bookcase people read and sort out your books when you put them in the bookcase. Here they read about how to build and dash around dropping blocks to build various stuff. When built they show you how the item is spelt, but they spelt helicopter wrong, silly bookcase people.
Technicals. I designed the bottom shelf as a 5 character 5x3 dot “text (book) display”. The idea was that the small boxes on the spines of the text books illuminated, to display “Hello” or “Alice”, but it is very difficult to read, so I made it into a fruit machine instead. The bookcase people jump up and down on the text books to align all the coloured "wheels" green.
On the next shelf bookcase people first collect and then drop blocks to build one of ten different items.
The next shelf holds books with titles from A to Z which are illuminated in turn by passing bookcase people to spell the name of the built item below them.
The top shelf is a boat the bookcase people built with flashing sails and some large books with info.
Grandchildren have to encourage the bookcase people to build another item by jumping.
"May" is arty.
The change in your infrared pattern as seen by “May” writes coloured horizontal lines on the canvas. Depending on your movement, either solid colours or randomly coloured streaks.
"May" replies with black vertical lines that simply erase parts of your carefully placed lines.
I thought it was going to look much better, anyway onwards and upwards to "June"
“June” is for everyone.
A friendly caterpillar enters the maze from the left and initially heads towards the right.
At each junction they pause and move in the direction of your own infrared movement.
Along the way the caterpillar meets and is tickled by many friends. This involves lots of flashing and jumping around, and that's just the caterpillars.
Its an easy maze, made fun by all the silly movements needed to help them find the exit.
I have programmed it so that the caterpillar always finds the exit, but please don't tell anyone.