Communicate With A Potted Plant Using Projected Light

<p>Using video projection, Kimchi and Chips create a responsive tree whose growth is influenced by visitors’ gestures.</p>

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May 23 2011, 2:45pm

When someone references talking to a tree, we tend to think of tree-hugging crusties channeling botanic chakras or something equally strange and spiritual. But in the augmented project Lit Tree from interactive art duo Kimchi and Chips, the conversation with nature happens through the medium of technology.

Kimchi and Chips achieve this by using a video projection with the tree as the canvas, but rather than the tree serving as a screen to display the projected light patterns, it creates a feedback loop. First the tree beckons the viewer with a dancing visual display, using the tree's leaves to create volumetric patterns and to digitize the leaves into voxels. The patterns swirl and dance, and as the viewer approaches and gesticulates, the patterns of the tree respond. And thus, an interactive relationship is born, though the elements are a little more complicated than merely audience and artwork.

They explain:

We propose an alternative to the media facade, whereby designers and advertisers use LED and projection technology to display graphics through the built environment. We suggest that use of media facades can lead to an asymptote of confusion and visual pollution. Instead, we ask how can an unscripted natural entity within our environment can also be visually celebrated. If we can promote the use of trees as outdoor visual media, then we can better plan cities to both accommodate the human requirement for nature, and our developing want for digital control over the visual environment.

The artists go on to say that as the temperature of light produced by the video projection bulb is similar to the surface of the sun, the tree will eventually react to the projection like it would to the sun's rays, producing a dialogue between the viewer and the tree. As the tree reacts to the projection and the viewer's movements, its branches grow to accommodate the patterns of light, so the projection becomes the medium through which man and nature converse.

Could this open up a whole new chapter of projection mapping, in which we use natural world surfaces instead of buildings? In this new sphere, technology becomes the means by which we communicate with the natural world instead of distancing us from it. This project foreshadows the growth of a symbiotic relationship through video projection and gestural interaction.

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