Media façades incorporate new technologies to augment urban space, inspiring people to renew their relationship with place, connection to location, cultural identity and sense of belonging. With emerging new technological applications, artists and designers are being called to transfigure public space, making it interactive by transforming the urban fabric into a dynamic tool. In this paper, we analyse how people reinvent their location by examining two contemporary international interactive media façades; the Digital Wall in Central Park in Sydney, and Islamic Design on Metro stations in Dubai.
Central Park’s Digital Wall is Australia’s largest interactive wall in a public shopping centre. Inspired by K11 Art Malls, a Chinese shopping mall franchise which features artworks by international artists such as Damien Hirst. We discuss artworks using mind computing technologies from the Digital Wall’s 7mm curatorial pitch, to analyse how the public can alter their inner-city location through interaction. In this urban shopping space the artworks invite users to wear a biosensor headset which captures their individual brainwaves, subsequently transforming the imagery displayed and creating an interrelationship between the wearer, the environment and the artwork. The Digital Wall is a new way of thinking about urban space by integrating local artists to promote community engagement and using interactive technologies to inspire and enable community interaction within the urban location. The Digital Wall rethinks public space by taking into consideration the citizens as main actors, empowering them to become instruments of transformation of the location they inhabit.
Dubai is hosting the 2020 World Exposition under the theme; Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. Interactive media façades will feature Islamic patterns on Dubai’s train stations. The artworks will provide the estimated 25 million visitors an opportunity to learn about Islamic heritage whilst being an integral part of the visual changes caused by spectator involvement. Moreover, the observed exploration of Geometric patterns will reinstate the concept of ‘dynamic and fluid’ Islamic art, both calligraphic and geometric, as an integral part of Dubai’s modern and traditional identities. The façades will contain integrated devices with monitors, in proximity to the train stations, allowing people to interact with and transform the fluid Islamic patterns. The key characteristics of this design relies on smart technology to create a dynamic metro station shell using sensors to capture solar energy throughout the day.
Media façades as a medium for human interactivity within urban space has philosophical, spatial, and social ramifications. As philosopher Timothy Morton argues, our sense of proximity to the elements that make up a “location” have now changed; we can no longer imagine ourselves as visitors to a location outside of ourselves or separate from the macro and microcosms of which we are part. Thus we endeavour to contribute to a global conversation with this paper; how media façades create public experiences through which a sense of intimacy with location can be explored, felt and understood. Identity is at the heart of these immersive experiences, bringing unique experiential experiences from East (Dubai) to West (Sydney).
- Caitilin de Bérigny, AU, is an artist and researcher in the Design Lab, University of Sydney. She has studied, lived and worked in Paris and Marseille in France and as an international filmmaker based in the United States. Her experimental artworks address crucial social, cultural and environmental issues. She has led major cross‑disciplinary research projects including: InterANTARCTICA and Reefs on the Edge.
- Freya Zinovieff, The University of Sydney, AU
- Majdi Felah, The University of Western Australia, AU
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