Team project for Reactive Spaces and Media Architecture
Spring 2015

We were asked to design, build and install a site-specific work that integrates with its surroundings. The piece had to be reactive and, given a small amount of contextual explanation, informative. We could use light, sound, motion or a combination of those three, mixed with data-driven programming. The piece had to run on site autonomously for four days.

The Site

Given the assignment to make a large scale reactive installation to be located off campus, we began to search for a location. We didn’t make any decisions on the design of the project until we found our site because we wanted the design and reactivity to be derived from its context.

After given the option to install our project on the exterior of the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville, we thought this would be the perfect site to get the exposure we needed. The site, located opposite a large PNC parking lot, allows for a wide field of view from multiple locations surrounding the site. We chose the center of that exterior wall for just this reason.

The Concept

The next phase was to decide what we wanted the project to do. Being located on the outside of a cinema, it seemed natural to react to the activities occurring inside the theater. We drew inspiration from the bricked over window openings that lined the exterior wall facing the parking lot. We decided to create a window into the space but provide an abstraction of what was happening. The project soon became an audio reading device which responded to the highs and lows of the movies playing inside.

The Design

The look of the piece became critical once we had decided what to do. We wanted to contrast the brick face but also keep elements of the context as we designed the frame. We used wood, exposed bolts and sheet metal to house the hardware and lights. Within the frame, we used fishing line and orange acrylic tubes filled with water which refracted the light to give a lantern like effect. The tubes were arrayed in a wave formation which remains constant unless there is a sound input. As the sound increases, the wave becomes faster and more violent.

When all of these elements combine, the result is a dynamic object which washes the wall in light and can display a different type of show to those walking outside the theater.