When an unexpected surprise breaks someone’s routine, they’re able to experience their environment in a new and different way – noticing new things in old places.
Limbic Media works with municipalities, communities and tourism associations to create imaginative, outside-the-box public art. Unlike traditional installations that use static 3D structures, we explore the under-utilized realm of sensory experiences triggered and enhanced by human activity to create something inspiring.
CASE STUDIES OF PUBLIC ART WORK
Voicebergs! Holidays the Limbic Way.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could see your voice!?! That’s what Hfour – a media arts company in Vancouver thought and they enlisted Limbic Media’s help to engineer a voice reactive lighting control system.
What We Built
Hfour designed and constructed two large faceted iceberg structures made from translucent material and built on top of floating platforms. Programmable multi-colour LED lights were placed inside the iceberg structures and a strip of lights ran between the two icebergs to a stylized “tin can” microphone around 20′ away. The Voicebergs were installed in a pond as part of the 2014 “Festival of Lights” at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver, Canada.
Children and adults alike were enthralled by the magic of seeing their voice transformed into light. The light travels from the microphone along the strip of lights to the Voicebergs and sets off a flurry of coloured light to the enchantment and delight of all in the gardens.
Check out the video above to see Voicebergs in action!
A Button Blanket Dance, a Projected River, and a Courthouse
“The Courthouse is the site of transformation. We will enter into this historic site and speak from our cultural voices. We will bring the land in the courthouse. This is our way of honouring the power of the land and transforming these difficult histories. 150 years is but a drop within these thousands of years of our existing history.” – Peter Morin
Limbic Media was approached by Peter Moran a First Nations artist to work on an application to do a commissioned project for the City of Victoria to celebrate British Columbia’s 150th anniversary. Peter wanted to address a particularly uncomfortable period in local history referred to as the “Potlatch Ban”. The Potlatch Ban lasted from 1885 to 1951 and prevented First Nation’s people in Canada from performing a ceremony of great cultural significance. The performance would take place in the old courthouse in Victoria where First Nation’s people were arrested for practicing their traditions. Limbic Media worked with Peter and his team team to create a proposal for a multidisciplinary and collaborative work that combined traditional music, dance, artifacts and language in conjunction with interactive lighting and projection mapping.
Our application was successful. Limbic Media’s role in the project was to create the interactive lighting and projection mapping elements that would be used in the performance. We were told that during the performance elders from the local First Nation’s community would be “testifying” at the courthouse so we decided to give the voice of the speakers additional power by having them control the lighting system we had embedded in a series of paper canoes built for the performance. For projection mapping we used a depth camera to capture the form of the speaker and projected video in the shape of the speakers onto the walls of the courthouse.
Limbic Media is proud to have been involved in a performance that raised awareness of a shameful and somewhat hidden part of British Columbia’s history. The performance empowered a disenfranchised people to have their voices heard and their story told. The interactive multimedia elements created by Limbic Media for the performance added to the power and immersiveness of the experience and we are happy to have been part of such an healing and transformative event. See the video above to experience it yourself.
The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) was looking to add something special to their annual Centennial Square Holiday Light-up that takes place every year in Victoria, BC. Traditionally, the Light Up follows a holiday themed lighting parade with 40k+ spectators. For the Light Up dozens of trees in Centennial Square are covered in holiday themed lighting and turned on for the first time of the year. The lights are beautiful to behold but the DVBA wanted turn the passive spectatorship of the event into something more engaging and interactive and they called upon Limbic Media to come up with a solution.
We knew that music was also big part of the Light Up – there are choirs and brass bands and all kinds of holiday performances that take place – so we thought wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow combine the lighting elements at the event with the musical performances taking place. The team at Limbic Media hit the laboratory and started to figure out ways to meaningfully map audio features such as onset (loud noises), energy (volume), and frequency analysis (pitch) to the colour, movement and intensity of lights. Essentially, the question we were asking was “what does sound look like?”. After a few weeks of experimentation we came up with around a dozen audio reactive lighting designs and programmed them into a lighting system that contained 800 lights that were individually controllable and capable of displaying millions of different colours. The 800 lights were installed into a large cherry tree outside the DVBA office at the entrance of Centennial Square.
Incredible. At the light up people were clapping, singing, and playing musical instruments under the tree. The installation was featured in both local and international press and continues to attract visitors to Centennial Square during the holidays. The “Singing Tree” as locals call it has become a permanent and loved fixture during the holiday season in Downtown Victoria.
Watch the video above or read the article that appeared on the front page of Victoria’s most popular newspaper the Times Colonist.
G++ Interactive Multimedia Gallery
Limbic Media was given a 50k budget by the BC Film / BC Arts Council (now Creative BC) to create an window front gallery and produce a series of 5 interactive multimedia installations.
What we Did
Multimedia galleries need more technical infrastructure than traditional ones so the first thing we needed to do was figure out how to get the most out of our limited budget. Because we had two large bay windows we decided to make sure we could do “multi-channel” installations as well as “single channel” ones. We purchased two large LED TVs, two short throw projectors, a screen, and a computer. Other electronics would be purchased on an as-needed basis for each of the installations. Part of our mandate for the temporary gallery was to provide non-technical artists the opportunity to work in the interactive media domain. We put out a call across the Country and received over 100 applications. We formed a selection committee and selected a diverse group of artists from across the country including a visiting student from China. We paired each artist with an engineer in our company and they collaboratively came up with a concept to implement.
The gallery was located on a busy downtown street in Victoria, BC and was experienced by tens of thousands of passerbys. It was profiled by many local media outlets.
We ended up producing the following installations:
Ectoplasmic Scream, facial tracking-based multimedia control. Doug Jarvis.
Atagamaton, gesture controlled kinetic sculpture/instrument. Scott Amos and David Parfit.
Shadows and Light, gesture controlled robotic puppets and multimedia. Yifan Wang.
Impulse, biometric (heart beat) controlled LED and sculpture installation. Danielle Gotell
The Woods, mobile phone controlled (two way SMS) interactive claymation video. Annie Briard.
We kept on budget and all artists were paid CARFAC mandated fees.
The G++ Interactive Media Gallery was the first exclusively interactive art galleries in Canada and one of the first in the world.
Atagamaton was probably the most popular of the installations – click on the video above to see it in action!