Ocean life and electric lighting have made an unlikely bond in a Fort Street window.
Fish.e is a new interactive art installation by Limbic Media’s Paul Reimer and Gabrielle Odowichuk. The wall of papier-maché fish scales, backlit by more than 500 LED lights, is on display at G++ Interactive Media Gallery for the next four weeks.
But it’s more than something to look at. Passersby can engage with the work, which is programmed to react to sound and movement. Each light responds to its audience, changing hue between two million colour possibilities.
“We can control the colour and intensity of each one individually. And we map the colour to motion and sound,” Odowichuk said. “We really want everything we do to be interactive.”
If the scales look weathered, it’s because they’ve been on a journey.
Odowichuk and Reimer covered a golf cart in the hand-made scales and brought their “fish car” to Burning Man, an outdoor art festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, last summer.
One rule at Burning Man, she said, is that if you want a licence to drive your vehicle there, it can no longer look like a vehicle.
“Basically it’s got to be a mobile art piece,” she said.
The desert’s flat, oasis-like qualities inspire many to turn their cars into ships. But Odowichuk and Reimer went smaller.
“The golf cart itself didn’t make it through the week, but I laboriously spent all this time making these really intricate papier-maché fish scales that took me months,” Odowichuk said. “We’ve turned it into a static installation instead.”
Reimer has written a new program for the piece.
Odowichuk and Reimer, who met as engineering students at the University of Victoria, have been creating interactive art together for about a year — including a Christmas tree with interractive lights in Centennial Square in December.
While Reimer, a computer engineer, focuses on programming the pieces, electrical engineer Odowichuk said she works on the creative side.
“On these projects specifically I would say Paul is definitely the technical — he’s done most of the engineering-type development of it. And then I do the artistic side — making paper things and taking the technology and turning it into art,” Odowichuk said.
She encouraged visitors to check out Fish.e at night, for optimal lighting.
“I made the fish scales and put all the designs on them, but Paul learned how to interface with the lights and actually talk to them,” she said. “So we work well; it’s really a true collaboration.”
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