A Massive, Glowing, Art Installation that Channels the Collective Mood of the Chinese People A Massive, Glowing, Art Installation that Channels the Collective Mood of the Chinese People
The GOOD Life

A Massive, Glowing, Art Installation that Channels the Collective Mood of the Chinese People

by The Creators Project

July 21, 2013

Ink painting for the fire theme. Courtesy of Jennifer Wen Ma

The finished lighting design for the fire theme. Photo courtesy of Wang Xin


Ink painting for earth theme. Courtesy of Jennifer Wen Ma

Earth theme on the Water Cube. Photo courtesy of Wang Xin

The thunder theme

In the case of thunder the emotional data determines the amount of thunder strikes and the frequency lightning bolts. For a different day the effects are different, for example another day could be "Heaven" and the emotional content determines the speed of the growth of the circle (heaven is represented by a circle that grows and shrinks. A sad day gives us very slow movement, a happy day gives us faster movement). In another animation the emotional content might determine the overall color.  

The Creators Project: What was the most exciting thing about programming for such a large surface?


Acevedo: Programming for such a large and public surface was great!  Of course it is awesome to make something that is so visible and by so many people, but I would say that my favorite part is standing right next to it where the size is overwhelming and the animations and color changes are so large that it feels like you are standing next to a giant animal.
It is impossible to comprehend what is going on to get a view of the whole thing, but you can see the tiny little variations made by all the hundreds of lamps behind the skin. The ripples of color come at you and swoop by, leaving you behind and making you wonder what it was that just happened. Since the imagery that drives the animation is so organic it really feels alive at that distance, as if you are standing next to a giant alien animal and you can detect the breathing and blood running beneath the skin. It's what I imagine swimming next to a blue whale must be like.

The Creators Project: What were some of the programming challenges you faced?


Acevedo: I live in New York, and the testing had to be made in Beijing with results video taped and then emailed back. This made for a very slow cycle. It was also impossible to get the colors correct until we were in Beijing ourselves as any color variation was always attributed to whatever camera was used to film that night's test.

Another challenge was the translation from normal computer screens with millions of pixels to the water cube that has only about 72 pixels across, and they are not lined up in a straight line. It took a while until we were able to start seeing how the water cube would react. For example any small element would be invisible, and straight line or border comes out like a zig-zag instead. Towards the end however we were able to use this to our advantage and were able to use simple geometric shapes that render quickly (for example water is just a bunch of rectangles, fire is a stream of bubbles). It was an interesting mental shift that we had to do.

 

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A Massive, Glowing, Art Installation that Channels the Collective Mood of the Chinese People