What if a building could encourage and respond to social interactions? What if people could collectively affect the soundtrack of their space? What if the ambience of a public space could be an ongoing dialogue with its inhabitants? These are some of the questions that Dimitri Diakopoulos, Victoria Fang, and Seth Hunter sought to answer in an interactive art installation for the EYEO conference and Northern Spark festival in Minneapolis.
Commissioned by the EYEO conference and co-produced by the Northern Spark Festival, Amplify Us is a site-specific installation that was designed and built for the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall. Developed on Intel® Galileo boards, the installation was created to engage with a community of creative coders, artists, and designers while also captivating the larger public with an immersive experience that sensed, sonified, and visualized social interactions.
Unique, architecturally-inspired touch panels were designed as the focal point of the installation. Mounted on columns throughout the Orchestra Hall lobby, these touch panels acted as inputs to affect the light and sound composition of the space. Individuals controlled a specific instrument and the color saturation of an entire floor of lights while overall collective activity affected the hue, making the space warmer in color with more interaction. When 5 or more people collaborated to create a chain holding hands through the space, a special party mode was triggered, creating a light spectacle and dance soundtrack.
The installation uses 4 networked Galileo boards to do capacitive and resistive touch sensing so that participants in the space can collectively affect the lighting and music in the space. Leveraging the Arduino-compatible I/O pins for the touch sensing, and the wifi capabilities to send data to a central NUC computer, the installation pushes on the unique capabilities of the Intel® Galileo board, using an open-hardware, open-source process. The project files are available on Github at https://github.com/IntelOpenDesign/AmplifyUs.
The availability of open-source software and freely available hardware designs is at the center of a new convergence in the way artists, makers, designers, and engineers are able to communicate and collaborate. With Amplify Us, the team aims to keep working at the edges of this area by documenting the concept development, software, and hardware in an open, transparent way. This project showcases the kind of artistically expressive, architectural-scale experiences now possible with open-compute initiatives like Intel® Galileo, suddenly enabling makers and designers to treat the physical world as a medium for embedded computation.
EYEO and Northern Spark celebrate the confluence of art, design, and technology. The event draws a crowd of folks interested in the intersection of data, art, and interaction and deeply invested in open platforms. For a single night, the city becomes a fully wired environment with visual, auditory, and tactile experiences taking command of social interactions. Coming from Intel Lab’s User Experience Research group and the Perceptual Computing group, part of the team's charter is to engage and enable new maker and developer communities. Amplify Us was built to inspire and contribute to this community with Intel Open Hardware at the heart of the experience.
About Eyeo Festival
Converge to Inspire. The Eyeo Festival promises to fuel inspiration and new discoveries for how technology is used in art, entertainment, business, and beyond. Eyeo will bring together leading interactive artists, infographics designers, technology pioneers, digital solutionists, new-media experimenters and coders for four days of events dedicated to the people and tools transforming digital culture, and our world.
About Northern Spark
On the second Saturday in June each summer, tens of thousands of people gather along the Minneapolis riverfront and throughout the city to explore giant video projections, play in temporary installations in the streets, and enjoy experimental performances in green spaces and under bridges. From dusk to dawn the city surprises you: friendly crowds, glowing groups of cyclists, an unexpected path through the urban landscape, the magic of sunrise after a night of amazing art and experiences. Northern Spark is the one-night arts event people talk about for the rest of the year.