For TED's 30th anniversary, artists Janet Echelman and Aaron Koblin collaborated to create Unnumbered Sparks, a monumental interactive sculpture in the sky. Choreographed by visitors in real time through their mobile devices, at night the sculpture became a crowd-controlled visual artwork on a giant, floating canvas.
The sculpture spanned 745 feet between buildings in downtown Vancouver, Canada from March 15-22, 2014 (map). At night, it came alive with illumination. Visitors with smartphones and tablets were able to paint vibrant beams of light across the sculpture at a remarkable scale: small movements on their phones became hundred foot long trails evolving and combining with fellow participants.
When you look at the sculpture, you're looking at a web browser. The lighting on the sculpture is actually a single fullscreen Google Chrome window over 10 million pixels in size.
The backbone of the entire project, Go is the programming language used to manage the client connections to the sculpture and run the web server that outputs the visuals to five projectors.
The visuals on the sculpture are entirely rendered in WebGL, a web technology that gives developers access to the GPU for ultra-fast graphics processing.
As you move a finger across your mobile device, the location data is sent dynamically to our web server via a Websocket connection, allowing you to interact with the sculpture in realtime.
The entire project was built with Polymer, a library that lets you create custom HTML elements.
Sculpture by Janet Echelman
Interactive Art by Aaron Koblin
Studio Echelman: Melissa Henry, Daniel Zeese, Cameron Chateauneuf, Lucca Townsend, David Feldman
Google Data Arts Team: Doug Fritz, Aleksandar Rodic, Jono Brandel, Max Hawkins, Chris Delbuck, Hyun Ji Bae, Sabah Kosoy, Valdean Klump, Jenny Ramaswamy, Clem Wright
Arup: Clayton Binkley, Hans-Erik Blomgren, Patrick McCafferty, John Hand, Cormac Deavy
Glotman Simpson: Rob Simpson, Andrew Seeton
Simulation Software Engineering
Autodesk: Jeff Kowalski, Peter Boyer, Matt Jezyk, Mike Dewberry
Projection & Lighting
Graphics eMotion: Hassan Aziz, Julien Abril, Frank Dufaux, Olivier Delahousse, Louis Fortin
Kinetic Lighting: James Schipper, Geoffrey Galper
CMoore Sound: Connor Moore, Joel St. Julien
Brown Pelican Group: Marybeth Hall, Glenn Hall
GNW: Elia Kirby, Nate Sills, Belle Cheung
John Neal, Les Powers, Steve Gregory, Charles Olson, Brad Wolten, Maria Meza, Brenden Hegarty, Holly Boersema, Amanda Tucker, Jack Pace
Grainey Pictures: The Sibs (Colin Keith Gray & Megan Raney Aarons), Amaechi Uzoigwe, Brian David Culp, Sacha Smith, Kerry Girvin, Tyler Heckerman, Todd Erickson, HeliVideoPros, Scotty Harding, Jeff Lowey, Ian Whittlesey, Scott Simerly Jr
Interactive Art: Google
Burrard Arts Foundation, City of Vancouver
Vancouver Convention Centre, The Fairmont Waterfront, Port Metro Vancouver, Tourism Vancouver
Honeywell Spectra®, Yale Cordage