1. Light House is an interactive spatial environment in which a suspended form of tube light bulbs responds in real time to music. The work was made by SOFTLab, a design group out of New York, using Arduinos, custom hardware, and Processing to control the lights.
I found this work especially beautiful and admirable because it creates its own space of experience, deepening the viewer’s immersion within the work. Though I enjoy the simplicity of the piece, I think pushing the viewer’s emotional ties to the music with the color of the lights and varying the light intensity could strengthen the work. The music is limiting and simple; adding a way to generate one’s own sounds or providing more abstracted noise would allow for greater conceptual connections.
After looking through SOFTLab’s previous pieces, this work seems like the logical progression of their ideas. Many of their previous designs include the use of light and the engagement of the surrounding space, asserting the presence of the work over the space as opposed to incorporating the space into the work. This is evident in Global Concepts and in their design for the Beaux Arts Ball with the theme of Tender.
2. Listening to the Ocean on a Shore of Gypsum Sand is an interactive sculpture created by 3D printing mathematically generated patterns of seashells for the express purpose of using them to listen to the ocean. The work was a collaboration between Gene Kogan, Phillip Stearns, and Dan Tesene and used Processing and the Hemesh Library to make 3D models.
This work surprised me in its full exploration of the idea of work and futility. I expected the work to be more focused on the process of creating the shell, but the work extends much deeper. In my interpretation, these perfect mathematical objects are created in desire for a simple, childish moment. The objects could have been any mathematical shape, much more abstract, or finely attuned for harboring the ocean sound. Instead the objects yearn for the organic, relying on patterns of nature to achieve its goal. This is futile because either fabricated or real, the sound of the ocean is generated by the noise around the hollow object, not the object itself.
Gene Kogan has previously combined sound and 3D printing in Audio Sculptures, using sound as form in that instance. I feel that Listening to the Ocean on a Shore of Gypsum Sand is a progression of this content.
3. Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns is a data visualization of the frequency of flight paths in The United States. The work utilizes data from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration compiled with Processing and edited with Adobe After Effects and Maya.
Flight Patterns achieves its job on a literal level, but I feel it was a missed opportunity to make a statement. I find no significance in the colors used to indicate flight densities nor the simple lines tracking each flight. There is no way of telling a commercial flight from a military one. The information only shows flights landing and leaving the United States; there is no indication of the impact of American flights on other places, nor vice versa. There is no environmental data provided.
Some of these questions are addressed in other versions of Flight Patterns. One incarnation shows the paths of all of one model of airplane within the United States. This version does provide more interpretive data than the original.