Idea For Interactive Piece

The brief we have been set is to…

‘Create a piece of interactive information design for a shared public space, which is intended to elucidate/explain some an idea or concept you perceive as key to our 21st century media experience.’

The interactive element of my piece will be related to motion, I will video capture the public space and detect the brightness threshold of motion. The piece will feature objects that gravitate towards the bottom of the screen; when motion is detected, the objects are then obstructed from falling. The video capture will be in contrasting black and white, with brightly coloured objects, and the people will be captured as silhouette like figures rather than in full detail. The interactive element of my idea gives the users a sense of agency, which hopefully will help to keep them engaged. A piece that relates to my idea is Text Rain, produced by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv in 1999:

It features coloured falling letters which respond to users motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again.

‘If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase. The falling letters are not random, but form lines of a poem about bodies and language’ (Utterback 2014).

I like how the text produces a poem and think that this piece is very effective. For my piece, I could experiment with using different objects, for example I could possibly use shapes, texts or graphics. Relating it to the public space, I feel the idea would be suitable as the piece can be experienced singularly or by multiple people.

The concept that I could apply my piece to is surrealism. Surrealism is a

‘movement, which began in the 1920s, of writers and artists who experimented with ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination’ (Tate, 2014).

Duval (2014) describes surrealism as a form of expression that surpasses realism, hence in this case the surreal can be seen as being better than ‘real’. Surrealists were inspired by Freud, who

‘identified a deep layer of the human mind where memories and our most basic instincts are stored. He called this the unconscious, since most of the time we are not aware of it. The aim of surrealism was to reveal the unconscious and reconcile it with rational life.’ (Tate, 2014).

Thus, surrealism is related to the blurring the distinction between reality(conscious mind) and dreams(unconscious mind). This could link to Baudrillards’ idea of hyperreality, of which I am studying in my Consumer Culture theory unit. He defines hyperreality as the blurring distinction between reality and simulations of reality, of which in the case of surrealism, dreams and imagination could be classed as simulations of reality. Baudrillard (1970, p.12) suggests that

‘Instead of reality, people are treated to simulations involving the constant recombination of various signs, of elements of the code.’

This highlights the blurring boundaries between reality and simulation of reality, of which can strongly be applied to contemporary postmodern culture. It can relate to my idea as users may think it is reality as they are present on the screen, but in fact it is a re-presentation of reality, with the juxtapositioning of random falling objects. This also relates to Saussures’ earlier ideas regarding semiotics: the signifier (object/words/pieces) and signified (concept/meaning), and as Barthes (1964 p.42) suggest:Saussure-Signified-signifier

‘the signified is not ‘a thing’ but a mental representation of the ‘thing’’

My idea could also relate to the concept of audiences, which I studied a lot in my first year theory modules, relating to the changes from passivity to activity, audiences to users and consumption to production (see previous post – Active Audiences).

Next, I will go on to explore some surreal art work and photography that I find of interest, and will relate it to my idea, as well as further exploring my chosen concept of surrealism. I will also go on to develop my processing skills, by watching tutorials and independently experimenting with trial and error, as well as attending the workshops.


Barthes, R, 1964. Elements Of Semiology. New York: Hill and Wang.

Baudrillard, J, 1970. The Consumer Society: Myths & Structures [online]. London: Sage Publications.

Duval, A, 2014. Surrealism: What Is Surrealism? [online]. Available from: [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Tate, 2014. Surrealism [online]. Available from: [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Utterback, C, 2014. Text Rain [online]. Available from: [Accessed 27 November 2014].


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