15. May 2015

Playground of the future – an interactive luminous forest

Photos: Nick Pagee

In 2010, TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) opened their new “home” in Toronto/CDN: the Bell Lightbox, an essential meeting place for film professionals, educators and film lovers from around the globe. The centre comprises five movie theatres, two restaurants and a series of exhibition spaces. The “digiPlaySpace” interactive digital art exhibition is specifically for children and takes places from March to April on an annual basis.

The digital interactive light sculpture “Forest” on show this year was the result of a creative collaboration between media artist Micah Elizabeth Scott and a team of researchers and students from the New Media programme at Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media. The idea behind the floor-to-ceiling luminous forest was that bubbles of light would flow through the space helping the young visitors to find their way through the twisting organic strands and interactive paths, and encouraging play and curiosity. Visitors were invited to interact with the installation by turning circular elements, so-called “spinners”, which were incorporated into the physical and digital structure and represented pools where the light collected.

RGB LED strips were mounted behind white panels, which had milled organic perforation patterning. The LEDs were computer-controlled and simulated flowing movement upwards across the panels. RGB spectrum stickers were applied on the rear side of the spinners. When a visitor turned one of the spinners, a sensor measured the colour of the portion of the sticker being scanned and used that data to cycle through locations in an RGB colour cube, affecting the underlying particle system.

Involving the students in the project made for a creative learning process: the students had the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills when it came to materials, fabrication, quality control and electronics. The team spent five weeks completing the project.


Project team:

Commissioned by: TIFF
Design and realisation of the installation: Micah Elizabeth Scott
Project leaders: Steve Daniels, Director of New Media, David Bouchard, Assistant Professor of New Media
Production manager: Ashley Lewis
Project Assistants (students): Sabreea Ahmed, Madeleine Amestoy, Meera Balendran, Alexander Basso, Zachary Botvinnik, Erin Brooker, Melissa Chan , Lindsay Cooper, Erica Cristobal, Ngawang Datok, Joelle Dell’Erede, Chelsea Dodd, Alejandro Flores, Amanda Huang, Tiffani Hui, Hilary Julien, Natali Lasky, Kadrah Mensah, Karina Nicole, Victoria Pietsch, Tess Sutherland, Justice Walz, Julia Wice, Mackenzie Willis, Charmaine Yu, McAlister Zeller-Newman


Forest Preview from Micah Scott on Vimeo.

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