Last week, I blogged about the blending of physical and virtual space to create new places and experiences in a city. This way the city itself is the art form, not merely the backdrop for some unrelated, unintegrated work of art.
There are a few examples of this blending of the virtual and physical already happening in various ways.
- In Aarhus, Denmark, the public library opened a public space for residents to use their mobile devices and create a collective work of digital art that could then be “posted” on the walls.
- In Times Square in New York in 2010, the retail outlet Forever 21 put a fashion model on a display screen. She took pictures of the real crowd below and then showed it on the screen. (See www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtLX52z4kPU) The story goes that it was so successful, the police asked the company to shift the angle of the screen because drivers were stopping to look.
- Just as in a connected world, we say that “work goes to people, instead of people going to work,” so too have retailers started to bring the store to where people are instead of trying to entice them into stores. As an example, PeaPod converted the walls of the Chicago Transit Authority into virtual supermarket display cases where people can use their smart phones to buy food that will be delivered to their homes later.
- In Australia, partly as a public health measure to encourage walking instead of escalator use, the city painted some stairs to look like piano keys and then linked that up to computer generated sounds. As people walked on the stairs, they were playing music. Another “Wow” experience that is not expected by residents and visitors – http://www.chordstrike.com/2009/11/piano-stairs.html
- Mercedes Benz has demonstrated “transparent walls”, on which is projected what is happening on a side street a car is approaching. That way a driver can see something coming before it would normally be visible. The safety benefits are pretty obvious. For a video, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LqCMv3Nz4ZQ#!
- Another automobile company, BMW, displayed an alternative streetscape based on a one-to-one conversion of cars on the street into their futuristic versions. The video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=12B63umLkWU#! They call this “The BMW i Window Into The Near Future".
- The feel-o-meter by Richard Wilhelmer is another fun experiment that blends what is happening in the city with a virtual presentation. His Public Face II which portrays a smiling or sad face based on new scanning software that looks at the faces of people walking on a city street in Germany. See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nBstJ6_HMac
Of course, each city is different so there is still a large element of creativity in developing an appealing and appropriate blend of the virtual and physical. That will be a challenge for artists, technologists, planners and even local government leaders. It will be lots of fun to see how this all develops.
© 2013 Norman Jacknis