Play is a fundamental aspect of our character, and just because you get older doesn't mean you and your friends don't want to act like a bunch of five year olds every now and then (without being drunk)—and that's pretty much what a lot of collaborative interactive art allows us to do, tapping into our childish sense of fun, discovery, and the group dynamic. This is something artist Jen Lewin explores in her large scale interactive artworks.
An example is her installation Pool, which features interactive circular platforms that people step on and they light up and project and send messages to the other platforms, creating scrolls of light and color. The sculpture has 106 platforms in concentric circles which communicate wirelessly while also "listening" out for the other platforms. "Imagine a giant canvas where you can paint and splash light collaboratively." says Lewin.
The surface of each pad can sense the location, speed, and movement of the person on it, and this determines the ripples of light that flow out to the other pads. This way it becomes a giant game, a light instrument whose patterns and compositions vary depending on how people engage with it.
Another of her projects is the Long Harp (below), featuring lasers that people put their hands over to create sounds—the harp is able to detect how fast a user strikes it and the height at which they do, which affects the outcome of the sound. Laser harps are something that have been explored by many artists and designers, but this one becomes a collaborative experience where many people can interact with it, rather than just one person using it for a performance.
"It's not surprising that this idea of interactive art, with large groups of people, is happening at a time when there is so much social media." Lewin explained to the BBC. "If you look at the internet, suddenly there's all these examples of the web being used to connect groups of people, to bring them together and in my work I'm trying to do the same thing. I'm trying to bring a hundred people together into a space to play with a sculpture in a much more networked and connected way."
Check out more pics of the Pool installation below.
Images courtesy of Jen Lewin Studio