Saturday, August 16, 2008

Virtual sanddunes

Definitely a nice project is 'Reizend Zand', Dutch for 'travelling sand', an animation of sanddunes located in front of the railway station in the Dutch city Apeldoorn. Artist Giny Vos worked for four years on this project, in collaboration with the city of Apeldoorn, Rena electronics and a 3D animator, to finally deliver this 480.000 Euro display that contains 1.3 million LEDs.

Though perhaps not very interesting technology- or interaction-wise, this project in a way shows excellently what the aesthetics of future technology as I envision it look like. Organic, and ever adapting. Although it is a pity that it is still a direct translation of nature as we know it, and that it is not interactive. I hope there will be continuations of this project, and the display becomes a platform for interactive experimentation. This landscape could for example react on human passers-by and reflect their behaviour or their emotional states, hence becoming an intuitive tool for collective self-reflection and identity and self-concept building.

And the less serious science-fiction buff in me would propose an Easter egg for this system based on the classic 1984 David Lynch movie Dune based on Frank Herbert's novel: there could be a giant worm underneath the sand which rises up when the pedestrians or cyclists move in a certain way, or in certain configurations, of course accompanied by music including the lyrics "walk without rhythm, and you won't attract the worm."

But seriously, despite my usual critical stance I do find this stunning. Calm technology like this is definitely what we information-addicts need to feel more in tune.

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