Digital Design Project – Urban Proposal


Based on the idea that NewActon is more than just a place to live, work or play but a place of living art and design, I thought I would try and visualise this concept in my project.

After the initial site visit and group discussion I decided that I would use the rectangular seating and the floor between them as my projection surface. My concept is to turn the seating into living forms where each individual block has its own personality or identity. Bringing to life these “forms” they would then be able to communicate or react to each other. I would also like the installation to be interactive if possible. However, depending of skills and time this will have to be considered carefully. If unable to use live data and interaction, the next best option would be to record and then projecting the results. A few ideas of what data could be was sounds or maybe a social network like Twitter or Bluetooth Ids. I haven’t quite figured out would the final outcome will look like, what the meaning behind why the forms come to life or how it will be site specific. So I have quite a lot to think about really.

Background and Context

Projection mapping is an exciting new technique that is emerging in cities around the world. Using powerful technology and specialised software it can make almost any surface come alive in an array of light, color and motion. The technique creates interesting optical illusions and changes the perceptions of viewer.

After deciding what surfaces I was going to use, I started my research into what imagery was effective to project onto rectangular forms and how I might be able to visualise objects coming to life. I also looked into what sort of inputs I could use as the data for my ‘things’.

Video Sculpture Installation by Song Eun Hee

A pre-recorded animation projected onto five different rectangular volumes.

How does this relate to my proposal?

Rectangular forms – As I proposed to use the seating in the foyer, I decided to look into examples of video projections that utilised rectangular forms. How the example above differs to my proposal, is that I would like each individual seat to have its own personal/design to its neighbours rather have one image being split and projected onto all.

Toyota Auris Hybrid: ‘Get Your Energy Back’ by Glue Isobar

‘Get Your Energy Back’ is a vehicle advertising campaign with a twist as Glue Isobar wanted a concept as innovative as the new hybrid Toyota Auris. Using 7 projectors with a combination of 2D, 3D, algorithmic and dynamic animation they projected onto the vehicle and walls nearby. What was different from the usual large scale building projections seen around the time, Glue Isobar created an up close and intimate experience.

How does this relate to my proposal?

Bringing to Life – The ‘full of energy’ concept is what initially caught my eye and inspired my proposal. I liked the idea of transforming seemly everyday objects into pieces of art to create a new experience.

Multiple surfaces – Glue Isobar had to cater to different surfaces, like concrete, brickwork and a shiny metal vehicle. While I won’t have as many surfaces, I will have to consider if I need to treat the floor and the seating differently. It might not be too much of an issue as they do seem to be made from similar materials.

Intimate location – As the foyer is small, the project will have to respond to the intimate space. Placement of the projector and what angle the video hits the seating will be very important as viewers will need to be in certain location to view the projection clearly.

Nokia Ovi Maps by Seeper

This interactive projection mapping project used face tracking and movement, optical flow and a complex game of arrow chess to captivated viewers and draw them into installation.

How does this relate to my proposal?

Interactive Input – I would like to have an interactive element in my project so that the public feels that they are part of the action and have some influence over the result. This will allow for more connection on a personal level rather than just looking at something attractive.

Addressing to the Brief

The challenge

To design and realise site-specific digital projection culminating in a short-term exhibition at the end of semester. The work will be a platform for digital intervention, reflection, augmentation or ornamentation with NewActon East foyer being the location.

Key questions:

How can we apply digital techniques to create engaging interventions in a specific urban space? Around the world, cities are using digital techniques to engage the community. Commonly, these techniques are seen in large digital billboards or media screens that are mainly used for advertising and promotion, but more recently it appears they offer innovative ways for investigating new approaches to social interaction and cultural exchange. An interest article called Media Facade by Susanne Fritz introduces us to major ideas and projects in the digital realm – mechanical media surfaces, projections and computer animated light installations.

Projection, being the digital technique used for this project is probably the most flexible in terms of creating temporary digital interventions that are site specific. By using the surfaces and forms within the urban space rather than bringing in external platforms to project onto it reinforces the impression of the digital intervention being only for that specific site rather than it being on a billboard which can we viewed anywhere.

How can digital techniques address the multiple dimensions of urban space, form and experience – historical, social, cultural, aesthetic, architectural, etc? As mentioned above, projection mapping is an innovative technique that is growing rapidly. Its ability to animate and create captivating optical illusions using light, color and motion results in the viewer’s change in perception of urban space, form and experience. Projection mapping can also address historical, social or cultural issues to cause a reaction from the viewer. In my proposal, I have not quite tackled this subject yet as I’m still trying to realise my concept and how it relate to the specific site.

How can digital interventions respond richly to a specific site? To me, creating a site specific digital intervention allows for the local community to connect to their environment on a deeper level by creating new experiences and changing the way they might see that space. In today’s society people are always on the move and never really have time to contemplate or absorb the public spaces they travel through day after day. Therefore using specific site digital interventions transforms normal everyday spaces into exciting and active places.

What is the potential for on-site responsiveness and interaction? The foyer is open to the public during the day as it serves as the entry to a Pilates studio, commercial office, public toilets, the apartment lobby and a walkway through to the courtyard and NewActon Pavilion beyond. General public can walk through during daylight hours but after 6pm it becomes restricted access to residences and NewActon East employees. Therefore, I believe there is a huge opportunity for constant interaction throughout the day and night.


The process I will undertake for this project will be in a few stages. The first stage will be research and fine tuning my proposal idea. The next stage will be design and writing the program. The final stage will be on site testing and fine tuning. All these stages will be documented in this blog and by the end of the semester I hope to achieve a projection mapping installation worthy of being on exhibition. If possible it will be an interactive digital intervention which will activate the foyer and create a whole new experience for the local people. As for the technical requirements, I’ve tried to note down some issues that might come up so that I’m hopefully prepared later on.


Equipment: Projector – I’m working off the assumption I will have access to one projector. I think more than one might add a whole other layer of complexity I might not be ready for. Laptop – I will run the program off my laptop but I will need to consider where I place it and the projector so that it doesn’t get damaged or in the way of viewers. Speakers – If I plan on using sound in my project, I will have to decide where to locate them, what range they have, will there be too much background noise if there are large crowds and what they will look like.

Projection surface: The seating closest to the Marcus Clarke Street entry. My goal is to project onto the multiple faces of one seating form and then as many seats as possible.

Location of projector: From the site visit my initial thought was placing the projector close to the apartment lobby doors at a high level and projecting out to the seating. That way when people enter from the main entry, Marcus Clarke Street, they will have a glimpse of the installation and hopefully enticed them to investigate further.

A lot of this stuff is still up in the air and I hope to have more of a solid concept and design in the next couple of weeks. I think being strict with deadlines will be the only way to stay on track to having a final resolved outcome.


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