Digital Conversations

The most exciting creative digital work features elements in which the responses and behaviour of the audience trigger live interaction. Digitality can go beyond simply sending a message as it offers the opportunity to instigate a conversation between a creator and a viewer.


Digital Painting

Turkish-born designer Mehmet Akten created the large-scale interactive installation Body Paint, in which the movements and gestures of people standing in front of it create splashes, blurs and waves of vibrant colour that change in reaction to the speed and boldness with which the viewers move.


Breathtaking Digitality

Some artists and designers have created incredibly subtle and sensitive digital work; for example, the digital dresses designed by Hussein Chalayan are spellbinding. The 2009 exhibition of Digital Pioneers at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London featured a strangely beautiful, projected silhouette of a large, gently swaying tree in the darkened gallery, its movements activated by the breeze in the street outside. Occasionally, projected leaves fell gently to the floor.


Digital Architecture

The Singapore-based design group Design Act proposed an amazing digital building for their entry to a competition to create Singapore’s pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010. The building, nicknamed the Pixel Cloud Skyscraper, featured 3,866 digital cubes of varying sizes on to which visitors, beckoned inside by music, could post their dreams of tomorrow. The plan was to create a hovering, ever-changing digital cloud.

The British designer Thomas Heatherwick created the British pavilion for the expo. Made of 60,000 fibre-optic rods that appear to burst from the building’s core, at night it pulsed with colours in response to the wind.


OMG, a Digital Chandelier

Challenged to create a chandelier that merged technology and innovation with tradition, Israeli-born designer Ron Arad designed a twisting corkscrew shape made of over 2,000 crystals and 1,000 white LEDs. The chandelier is designed to receive and display text messages, which pulse slowly downwards around its curves.


Domestic Digital Art

French artist Thomas Charveriat concealed mini tape players that could be triggered remotely using the internet inside refrigerators and washing machines; each one featured brief snatches of speech. He sold the machines on eBay and, in the following months, occasionally set off the tape players so that householders suddenly found their white goods talking to them. A little shamefaced about this invasion of other people’s privacy, he decided to let strangers invade his own home and linked the lighting, television, music system and switches to all the domestic appliances in his apartment to a website which enabled anyone who logged on anywhere in the world to turn them on and off at will. Cameras relayed the action live on the website.


Domestic Digital Design

Robin Southgate designed a toaster that forewarns breakfasters about the day’s weather. It is linked to meteorological forecasts on the internet which trigger the appliance to imprint symbols for sunny, cloudy or rainy on the surface of the toast.

The moment that really turned me on to working digitally was seeing an exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London of what was then called computer-related design. There were all these strange experiments including one with a golden curtain, sized about 3 by 1. 8 metres ( 10 x 6ft), made of thousands of large sequins. When you walked past it billowed and followed you while playing a burst of music. When you walked back again it¬†billowed and followed you again. People were just transfixed by it; they just stopped and started interacting with it. It was totally engaging and highly immediate. Later I discovered it was incredibly simple, with a video camera and a series of fans. The video camera saw where you were and just blew the fans. Like all the best digital work the technology was invisible; you simply engaged with the idea.’


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