Client: CREOS / INIT
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2023
The Urban Conga
Public Art Agent
Producer / Owner
oPTIK is a temporary interactive activation that allows the user to manipulate the work, the space, and the surrounding context in various ways. It sparks an ever-changing playful experience within a space by providing an open-ended platform for users to engage with light, sound, and movement. oPTIK was developed as two sets of ten units that can be placed in various orientations, allowing them to adapt to different sites around the world. The gyroscope-like forms contain a dichroic film at the center that enables the user to rotate the segments to create new ever-changing opportunities that reflect the sun and surrounding context during the day and refract the internal uplighting at night, creating a filtered view of the surrounding context. As the audience rotates each unit, they create their own endless cascades of colors. The experience is raised to another level as musical notes begin to play at every fifteen degrees of rotation. Each unit becomes its own unique instrument, from pianos to drums. Through movement and reflection of light, each of these colorful units encourages the public to engage with another unit and other people within the space, sparking spontaneous conversations, dance parties, jam sessions, light shows, and more.
Play is our natural driver as humans to discover, explore, and empathize with others, but often play is seen isolated within a specific space for a specific group. While creating oPTIK, the team wanted to break this narrative by providing an open-ended shared play experience for all demographics within everyday spaces worldwide. oPTIK begins to showcase the power of play in breaking down social barriers and connecting people of all demographics within the public realm. The installation utilizes its playable design to spark a spontaneous social connection between strangers creating a stronger sense of community within once underutilized spaces. The idea for oPTIK came from the understanding that if people can begin to manipulate the space in which they occupy even slightly, they will start to feel a greater sense of ownership to the place. The interactive installation was designed to showcase how temporary playable public activations can begin to impact our built environment in a positive way. The work was created as an alternative lens transporting people away from their daily routine and into a state of play, allowing them to engage with the work, the surrounding space, and others in new ways.
The Urban Conga collaborated with Serge Maeheu and INIT to develop oPTIK into a touring spatial activation that would spark unique, playful experiences around the globe. Inspired by the gyroscope’s form and playability, oPTIK was developed as a series of rings that can be rotated on multiple axes, allowing for an endless play experience. Each unit was developed so it could be easily deployed into a wide variety of spaces. oPTIK is now toured by CREOS around the globe.
oPTIK is a series of twenty illuminated interactive gyroscopes broken into two sets of ten. Each unit is 1.5 meters wide x 1.5 meters long x 2 meters high and contains three rings. The outer ring is fixed and equipped with 20 lights while the two inner rings pivot on two separate axes. The central ring is equipped with a disc adhered with a dichroic film reflecting a spectrum of colors during its day and evening interactions. Each component contains a sensor at the main pivot point that is connected to a small micro-computer inside, which triggers the musical notes and lights as the work is rotated. Each unit can play up to one thousand notes from its internal speakers.