Interactive Art Exhibit
Our public art piece for Canal Convergence was a set of glowing interactive chairs. The interaction is meant to remind people of watching storms; seeing the lightning strike and counting the seconds in anticipation of the thunder to rumble. This interaction is meant to make storms more playful.
Tonalea Middle School
Canal Convergence is an annual outdoors public art festival that celebrates water, light and community. Our challenge was to create an exhibition expressing these values, in collaboration with the Masters of Interior Architecture and students at the Tonalea Middle School.
Our first step for this project was to come up with an overarching theme for the exhibit that would connect all the objects. We decided on a theme of the storm.
Storms are very unique to Arizona as they do not come often, but when they do, it is a big event. Many kids go out to play in the rain or watch from the inside. However storms can also bring destruction. Nevertheless, it is a memorable event that brings people together.
We were able to visit the Tonalea Middle School twice to engage with 150 middle school students about community, water and storms!
"a storm brings the community together, for better or for worse"
- Tonalea Middle School Student
We did many exercises with them to understand how they feel about storms. These included drawing exercises, group chats and simulated class storms just using objects found in the room. These stories gave us inspiration for interactions we could create.
Next we had to decide on a story to tell through our objects. It had to be informative, interactive and fun! We decided to tell the story of storm watching and being able to count the seconds from thunder to determine how far away the lightning strike was.
Several Tonalea students mentioned this activity and find it to be a fun way to pass the time during a storm. The suspenseful waiting and overwhelming feeling that this experience creates makes it very memorable.
During this mode, the chairs 'breathed' slowly in sync. This attracted a lot of people to our chairs and was often a photo or video opportunity for many.
Once the red button is pushed, the chair glows like a lighting strike. After a random time delay of 0.5-3 seconds, the thunder hits the other chair and a loud crash of sound and tactile force shakes the person sitting in it.
Our considerations while ideating where the attendees of the festival, the 'instagramability' of our interaction, and the durability.
With a budget of only $300 and two weeks to make and install our chairs, we had to keep the design as simple as possible. We used IKEA chairs because they are cheap and durable.
We used blue foam models and cardboard to quickly iterate different designs
When designing the chairs we tried to keep the building to a minimum, as time was of the essence. The building was therefore fairly simple.
Coded with Python
400 WATT CAR AMP
for powerful sound and bass
IKEA PS VAGO CHAIR
for stability and safety
with waterproof coating
9000 LUMEN LED STRIP
for brightness and strength
35 AMP HR CAR BATTERY
for long lasting power