The Edge Effect

Submitted by Olivia Guethling

2+

Client: Portland State University

Location: Portland, OR, United States

Completion date: 2020

Artwork budget: $35,000

Project Team

Artist / Creative Director

Olivia Guethling

Intangible

Supervisor / Visual Effects / Projection Mapping

Nick Loy

Invisible Thread

Rigging

Mikele Schnitman

Axiom Custom Products

Supervisor / Visual Effects / Projection Mapping

Alex Hessler

Invisible Thread

Overview

This projection mapping installation visualizes connections in real-time. The “Edge Effect” installation consists of three fabric panels each measuring 8’ x 3’, an infrared movement sensor, and a projector. In essence, the installation allows people to play with the idea of “reaching out” and exploring their comfort zones by interacting with other participants who they connect with through a shared experience. Users experience how their body’s presence stimulates hundreds of mesmerizing particles that rise up as they step towards the installation synchronizing to form spectacular moving patterns. The movement sensor detects proximity of a person to the fabric, and this data is used to change the graphics projected onto the fabric panel. The closer a person gets to the fabric, the more intense the animations become. If two people approach the installation panel from both sides, they together trigger a third, spectacular visual effect; “rewarding” the interaction between two people.

Goals

The concept of this interactive projection mapping installation was inspired by the Portland State Universities conference theme "The Edge Effect", which describes the overlapping space between two ecosystems where an abundance of resources allows life to flourish. In essence, the installation allows people to play with the idea of “reaching out” and exploring their comfort zones by interacting with other participants who they connect with through a shared experience. Connecting people to themselves, others, and to a sense of play were the major elements taken into consideration for the design. At the conference, this installation became a vibrant place where people could meet and play.

Process

This project was designed and created by Experience Designer Olivia Guethling, and Nick Loy and Alex Hessler of Invisible Thread supported by the Portland Garment Factory. Artist and sculptor Mikele Schnitman designed and built the rigging system for the venue, the Portland Center State at The Armory. The installation was exhibited in February 2020 and also featured a dance performance delivered by contemporary dancer Casey Holzman.

Additional Information

This installation is able to transport users into a state of curiosity, play and joy. It allows users to explore and figure out the mechanics of the installation on their own. Once a person understands that two people are making the art interact differently, they often start chatting and connecting about their shared experience. The interactive graphics are designed to “pull” the users towards each other. The centerpiece of the installation and the most spectacular animation is the middle panel depicting the sun. One of the major themes that inspired this installation focuses on empowering individuals and celebrating new innovative practices that are as inclusive as they are mutually beneficial for all involved parties. The visual interpretation of this theme became part of this very dynamic and immersive graphic that pulls people in and leaves them with a smile. The geometry and natural shapes used in this pattern also add to the appreciation of nature that is being evoked in the viewer, and with that, a sense of wonder and hope.