AMODAL SUSPENSION Relational Architecture 8


"Amodal Suspension" was a hybrid work that transformed public space by visualizing electronic messages that people sent to each other. It was the eight in the series of "Relational Architecture" projects that Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has developed that seeks to create connective platforms for self-representation and anti-modularity.

There are many influential precedents to this kind of work. What follows is an annotated list of art and technology references that was compiled by researcher Jennifer Laughlin. For brevity, in many cases a single piece has been referenced from a larger body of work. Please write to if you would like to add a project or correct any information below; however, please note that the list is non-exhaustive and idiosyncratic.


Signaling, communication and telepresence
      Art Projects
Interactive Public Art
      Internet or network interface
      Local interface
      Phone interface
      GPS interface
Non-Interactive Public Art
      Lighting based
      Projection based
Sky Art
More resources

Signaling, communication and telepresence

Many forms of communication are used in today's world. This section examines the progression of communication and signaling systems throughout history. Many of these systems were developed for communication for military maneuvers. The impact of these methods and technologies on the art world is also discussed. Many of these projects involve the exchange of information through telecommunications. Systems employed are ASCII, Binary Code, Fiber Optics, Light sensitive cells and modems. Art works that involve the exchange of information and employ methods of conversion to another form of data are listed below.


The earliest form of signaling was a man running on foot, carrying a message. For example – Pheidippides who in 490 BC, carried news of victory at Battle of Marathon, to Athens. Today foot races are named after this battle - Marathon (Reference: James Riddle).

Horses, dogs and pigeons were all used to carrying messages and signals throughout history.


Soldiers communicated to one another on hilltops, though range was limited.

First Synchronous Telegraph, Ancient Greece, 350 BC
A well-known author in ancient Greece who wrote works on military strategy. Aeneas used synchronous communication signaling via fire signals and water flows.

Smoke Signals:
Smoke signals have been used for centuries to communicate over distances where sound signals would not be effective. As there are relatively no standardized codes for smoke signals (other then 1 puff = Attention; 2 puffs = All's Well; 3 puffs = Danger, Call For Help), so unless there is a secret significance between parties, codes could be conveyed to both friend and enemy. (By William Tomkins)

Lights and Smoke:
Roman armies used coloured lights and smoke from signal towers. The Greeks used fire signals and the British used beacons.

Lighthouses for Navigational Signaling:
Lighthouses were constructed to assist ships navigating at night. The first recorded lighthouse was built for the Pharaohs of Alexandria in 299 B.C. Since then many types of light have been used – from open fires, oil and electric power, to advanced optical light systems such as the Catoptric, Dioptric and Catadioptric systems.

Sign Language:
Another form of communication is Sign Language. Journals from explorers such as Columbus indicate that Native Indians used basic hand signals to communicate with them in order to convey ideas. This form of sign language is the world's most easily learned as it is elemental, basic, logical and properly illustrates ideas, transcending speech recognition and culture. (By William Tomkins)
For information on American Sign Language consult:

Semaphore Flag Signaling System:
The Semaphore flag signaling system is an alphabet signaling system where flags are waved, with arms extended, in a particular pattern, representing each of the letters of the alphabet. The flags are usually square, red and yellow, divided diagonally with the red portion in the upper hoist. For other examples of the use of flags for communication please follow the link for "International Marine Signal Flags:"

Claude and René Chappe
Chappe Optical Telegraph, Brulon, France, 1791
The two brothers sent a message between a castle in Brulon to a house in Parce, ten miles away, which took 4 minutes.

Letter Telegraph:
Lord George Murray invented this system that relied on visual contact, in 1796.

Morse Code:
The Morse System of telegraphy was invented by Samuel Finley Breese Morse in the 1840's in the United States. "Morse Code" is essentially a simple way to represent the letters of the alphabet using patterns of long and short pulses. These long and short pulses are translated into electrical signals by an operator using a telegraph key, and the electrical signals are translated back into the alphabetic characters by a skilled operator at the distant receiving instrument.

Electric Telegraph:
The Crimean War (1855) was first to use the electric telegraph in a war environment.

Thomas A. Edison
Recording Siphon, 1874
Edison invented this recording siphon in 1874. The Siphon received underwater cables and represented them graphically on a paper strip.

Nikola Tesla
Tesla Coil, 1891
In 1891 Tesla invented the Tesla coil, which is an induction coil used in radio technology, alternating currents and, among other inventions, he pioneered wireless technology.
Def: n. [HELIO+GRAPH] (Greek – sun writer) 2. A mirrored communications device for sending messages in Morse Code by flashing reflected sun's rays to a distant station. One of the first instances in which a Heliograph was used was by General De Witt in the Boer War (1899-1902).
Wireless and Telephone Systems:
WWI troops employed wireless, long-wave systems.

Signaling Discs and Shutters
These methods were introduced in 1915 and could be read using a periscope.

Flight Communication:
(Excerpts from: The Evolution of Airway Lights and Electronic Navigation Aids By Roger Mola)
The evolution of night navigation began with the lighting of bonfires and progressed to artificial light beacons to aid pilots. These beacons flashed in sequences while fixed tower lights pointed to the next field and one to the previous tower, forming an aerial roadway. For accuracy, a 500-watt revolving searchlight would project a beam parallel to the ground to guide pilots while another searchlight projected into the wind to show the proper approach.
Lindbergh Beacon
Los Angeles, California, US, 1928
One of the oldest precedents to the teleoperation of light is the Lindbergh Beacon in Los Angeles, which was first illuminated in 1928 when President Coolidge activated it by pressing a telegraph key from his desk at the White House.
Vannevar Bush
As We May Think”, 1945
The Memex was Bush’s solution to storing humankind’s vast wealth of knowledge. This machine was to answer a “call for a new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge”
Art Projects

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
Telephone Pictures”, 1922
Moholy-Nagy ordered five paintings from a factory; the images that were to appear in the paintings were dictated over the phone.

E.A.T. - Experiments in Art and Technology
"Telex: Q&A", New York, Stockholm, Ahmededabad, Tokyo, 1971
Four telex terminals were set-up in New York, Stockholm, Ahmedabad, and Tokyo. The public in each of the four countries submitted questions and the corresponding answers to participants in the other cities.

Sol LeWitt
"Cube Structures Based on Five Modules", 1971-1974
Sol LeWitt works with modules and systems that are simple and impersonal, to explore repetition and seriality. His works perfected the concept of "instructions" as a form of Art.

Dennis Oppenheim
"2 Stage Transfer Drawing", 1971-1972
Oppenheim makes a drawing on his son's back and in turn his son tries to copy this drawing through tactile sensation onto the wall. This piece investigates transference and communication through body

Kit Galloway, Sherrie Rabinowitz
"Satellite Arts Project ‘77", 1975-1977
This project, the first example of telecollaborative arts, allowed artists who were geographically separated to perform together through the use of video transmissions.

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz
"HOLE-IN-SPACE", New York City and Los Angeles, USA, 1980
People walking by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and The Broadway department store in L.A. were connected to each other live through a large video screen. This Public Communication Sculpture was the first of it’s kind.
Joseph Kosuth
"It Was it No. 4", 1986
White neon text with a blue neon line saying, "Description of the same content twice/It Was it" appears over the text "Psychopathologie of Everyday Life" by Sigmund Freud.
Eduardo Kac
"Ornitorrinco", Chicago, 1989
Ornitorrinco the telerobot by Eduardo Kac and Ed Bennett (1989), which was a first contact with the prolific field of artistic teleoperation.
"Winke, Winke: A message transmission", Austria, 1993
Winke, Winke allows participants to send messages via access terminals and Internet connection to a robot that translates these messages into signals of the International Semaphor System.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Will Bauer
"The Trace", Madrid, 1995
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Will Bauer's 1995 installation The Trace, where two remote participants shared the same telematic space constructed with intersecting light beams.
Natalie Jeremijenko
"Livewire: a realtime 3d ethernet traffic indicator", Xerox Park, California, US, 1995
A dangling wire is used as a visual representative of the number of packets on a network. The amount of traffic controls the “wiggling” frequency of the wire.
Toshio Iwai
"Piano – As Image Media", 1995
Here the user, seated at the piano, triggers a flow of images that depress the piano's keys; a consequence to this action releases yet another flight of images. The resulting interactive installation synthesizes two different aesthetics: sounds (simple melodies), images and a mechanical object (the piano) with digital media.
Ken Goldberg, Joseph Santarromana
"The Tele-Garden", U of Southern California, USA, 1995
This tele-robotic installation allows participants to view and tend to a garden remotely, through the Internet.
Cerith Wyn Evans
"Take Your Desires For Reality", Rome, Italy, 1996
A fireworks text displayed and ignited, distorting the original meaning.

Knowbotic Research
"Anonymous Muttering", Graz, Austria 1996-1997
Knowbotic Research 1996-97 Anonymus Muttering, featuring real time intersection of net data with sound and lightransformation.
Vito Acconci
"City of Text", Page for The New York Times Magazine, 1997
Acconci takes lines of text and manipulates them into a building, postulating that computers and E-mail have reintroduced and revised and revitalized "writing".
Masaki Fujihata
"Nuzzle Afar: Distant Affairs and Greetings", Institute for Visual Media, ZKM, Germany, 1998

Remote participants use a trackball and microphone to meet and communicate to one-another in a virtual environment. Data of the participants position and orientation are exchanged simultaneously.
Mischa Kuball
"Space-Speech-Speed", 1998
A large sphere covered with a mosaic of countless tiny mirrors revolves in the middle of a darkened room. Letters forming the words "Space-Speech-Speed" are projected onto the convex surface of sphere which then breaks them into fragments as it reflects them onto the walls of the room, forming an indecipherable transcription of a meaning.
"Views of Linz, Clickable Public Space", Linz, Austria, 1998
Stadtwerkstatt's Clickspace98, a three module project that allows light, sounds and messages to be displayed in various buildings in Linz, Austria.
Germaine Koh
"Prayer", Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1999
A computer captures keystrokes and converts them into Morse-encoded puffs of smoke that are released through a vent in the building.
Institute for Applied Autonomy
"GraffitiWriter", USA, 2000
"GraffitiWriter is a tele-operated field programmable robot which employs a custom built array of spray cans to write linear text messages on the ground at a rate of 15 kilometers per hour."
Angie Waller
"", 2001
Angie Waller's "" allows users to construct narrations and express difficult topics through readymade animations such as icons and multiple choice menus on their mobile phone.
Golan Levin
"Dialtones (A Telesymphony)", Linz, Austria, 2001
"Dialtones is a large-scale concert performance whose sounds are wholly produced through the carefully choreographed dialing and ringing of the audience's own mobile phones."
Golan Levin
"The Alphabet Synthesis Machine", On-line, 2002
"The Alphabet Synthesis Machine is an interactive online artwork which allows one to create and evolve the possible writing systems of one's own imaginary civilizations."
Golan Levin
"Re:Mark & Hidden Worlds of Noise and Voise", Linz, Austria, 2002
"The Hidden Worlds of Noise and Voice is an interactive audiovisual installation, or, alternatively, an augmented-reality speech-visualization system. Its central theme is the magical relationship of speech to the ethereal medium which conveys it."
Cecile Babiole
"Circulez y'a rien a voir", Paris, Berlin
"This kind of surveillance system allows spectator to generate images and sounds through their moves in front of the projection space. The movements are captured and converted into graphic patterns and sound modulations."
Takuya Sato
"Improbable Phones"
Allows mobile phone users to manipulate characters and images in three dimensions.
Kazuo Soma
"Improbable Phones"
Allows mobile phone users, with a network connection to use interactive, multi-user animation.
Soulmates Graphica
"Improbable Phones"
Soulmates Graphica have designed a mobile phone interface that allows users to scratch and mix audio tracks.
Krzysztof Wodiczko
"The Mouthpiece"
The Mouthpiece is a piece of equipment that covers the mouth of the wearer like a gag. A small video monitor and loudspeakers are installed at the center of the instrument and in front of the user's mouth. The monitor and the loudspeakers replace the real act of speech with an audio-visual broadcast of pre-recorded, edited, electronically perfected and quicked searched statements, questions, answers, stories, etc.
Fee Plumley (Producer)
Enables users of new generation WAP mobile phones to access short stories worldwide.
Sean Reed, Claudia Westermann
"zone_01", Germany
"zone_01" simulates communicative processes and translates them into sound.
Iain Mott, Marc Raszewski
"Summoned Voices", Eindhoven, Netherlands, 2003
This piece consists of a series of door installations each with an intercom, sound system and a computer that is networked to a central file and database server. Signage instructs the public to speak, make sounds or sing into the intercom. Their voice is stored and interpreted, and results in local playback composed of the individual's voice with those that have gone before.

Interactive Public Art

Internet or network interface

Christian Möller, Joachim Sauter
"Networked Skin", Linz, Austria, 1994
Christian Möller and Joachim Sauter's 1994 Networked Skin project for the Ars Electronica Center, designed to transform the building with a global interface.
ETV Hackers, Delft U of T
"The World's Largest Tetris Game", Faculty Building of Electrical Engineering, Delft U of T, Netherlands, 1995
People all over the world could play the game Tetris by using a simple telnet session and all the West of Holland could watch what they were doing on the building. At the same time the Telecom Student Club of ETV used a GSM telephone and a laptop to put every 10 seconds a picture on the Web.
Masaki Fujihata
"Light On The Net", Gifu Softopia Center, Japan, 1996
"Light On The Net" allowing the participants (both local and remote) to turn on or off any of a bank of 49 20 watt lights in the lobby of Gifu Softopia Center west of Tokyo, Japan.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Will Bauer
"Re:Positioning Fear, Relational Architecture 3", Graz, Austria, 1997
An installation on the Landeszeughaus military arsenal with a “teleabsence” interface of projected shadows of passers-by, revealing a real-time internet relay chat on the transformation of the concept of "Fear".

Hans Muller & Zwarts/Jansma Architecten
"Leidschenveen Tunnel", Leidschenveen, Netherlans, 1998
Hans Muller and Zwarts / Jansma Architecten 1998 installation in the Leidschenveen Tunnel, which allows people to send messages over the net, which are then presented in an electronic display in public space.
Dirk Lämmel, Tom Cernohorsky
"Rocotron – The Open Channel", Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Germany, 1999
The video cladding serves as a platform for the increasing "Internet community". Here the "users" can present their net-compatible films or animations at the same time on the Alexanderplatz and for a virtual public in the Internet.
Ken Goldberg
"Dislocation of Intimacy"
Ken Goldberg's telepresence pieces, such as his Dislocation of Intimacy that allows participants on the web to turn lights on and off and watch the shadows produced by an offscreen installation.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
"Vectorial Elevation, Relational Architecure 4", Mexico City, 1999-2000
Vectorial Elevation was an interactive art project that allowed thousands of people from 89 countries to control 18 robotic searchlights via local access terminals and the Internet.
Diane Bartolo
"channelUntitled", Montréal, Québec, CA, 2000
Bartolo uses the telephone, the radio and the computer, all used by humans to communicate to one another, to explore "the death of human contact", the relationship between the presence and the absence of the individual, and the future of the body in the contexts created by telecommunications.
Ken Goldberg
"Ouija 2000", Catherine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA US, 2000
"Ouija 2000" is a tele-robotic Ouija board with its pointer mounted on a robotic arm and a webcam view of the board. Participants log on to the Web site and, using their mouse, interact with up to twenty other live players to collectively control the single robot arm. The game-program calculates the collective movement of online participants' mice to determine the correct answer to point to.
Johannes Gees
"Hello Mr. President", Davos, Switzerland, 2001
A laser text display on the mountain side in Davos, Switzerland, allowed projection of texts which might be read by otherwise unreachable corporate and political leaders, meeting in January of 2001.
Tina LaPorta
"Re:mote_corp@REALities", New York, NY US, 2001
"LaPorta uses text from on-line chat rooms, windows displays of participants from cu-see me reflector sites and live web cams in this piece. The voiceover narrative consists of brief excerpts from interviews LaPorta conducted (IRL - In Real Life) with various artists, theorists, and curators who work with digital media."
Chaos Computer Club
"Blinkenlights", Berlin, Germany, 2002
Chaos Computer Club's Blinkenlights project in Berlin, transformed an office building into a popular display of messages an animation through an elegant interface.
Kouichirou Eto, Satoru Sugihara, Takuya Shimada, Ichiro Higashiizumi, Ryuichi Iwamasa
"Internet Physical Model", National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Tokyo, Japan, 2002
Black and White balls are used as a physical representation of binary code (0’s, 1’s). With these balls, participants create packets and send them out into the model of the Internet.
Marie Sester
"Access", Linz, Austria, 2003
"Access is a public art installation that applies web, computer, sound and lightening techniques, in which web users track individuals in public spaces with a robotic spotlight and acoustic beam system."
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
"Amodal Suspension", Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM),Yamaguchi, Japan, 2003
Participants send messages using a cell phone or web browser connected to The messages are encoded as sequences of flashes and sent to a network of robotically-controlled lights. Each light sequence will continue to circulate until somebody "catches" the message and reads it.
Johannes Gees
"The Helloworld Project", Geneva, 2003
From December 9-12, 2003, people from all over the world will be invited to send in messages, either by sending an SMS to a dedicated number or by going to The messages will then be projected onto hillsides in Geneva, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro and the resulted will be broadcast live in Geneva


Local interface


Toyo Ito
"Tower of Winds", Yokohama, Japan, 1986
Toyo Ito's 1986 Tower of Winds in Yokohama, transforms due to environmental changes such as noises and the speed and direction of the wind.
Toyo Ito
"Egg of Winds", Tokyo, Japan 1991
Ito's interactive designs "seek to represent the invisible electronic world as a parallel to our physical environment."
Christian Möller and Rüdiger Kramm
"Kinetic Light Sculpture", Frankfurt 1992
Permanent installation at the Zeilgallery. The façade changes colour depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Louis Phillippe Demers, Bill Vorn
"Espace Vectoriel", Montréal, QC, 1993
Louis Phillippe Demers, Bill Vorn's 1993 installation Espace Vectoriel, where the presence of the public triggered motion patterns and sounds from robotic light assemblies.
Vito Acconci
"Virtual Intelligence Mask", 1993
This piece involves a fencing mask that has been fitted with televisions, a radio and surveillance cameras. The wearer sees their surrounding (front and back) on the eye television monitors, while passersby can manipulate the TV and radio.
Toshio Iwai
"Resonance of 4", Espoo, Finland, 1994
Resonance of 4 is an interactive audio-visual installation that allows four people to create one musical composition in cooperation with each other.
Dan Graham
"New Design for Showing Videos", 1995
In this installation, Graham places video monitors and speakers in such a way so that participants (who are subdivided into groups of six) can view their video program as well as the other groups’ video images and audiences’ reactions to them. This functional scultpture creates a social space in a video exhibition situation.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Will Bauer, Susie Ramsay
"Displaced Emperors, Relational Architecture 2", Linz, Austria, 1997
This installation used an "architact" interface to transform the Habsburg Castle in Linz, Austria. Wireless 3D sensors calculated where participants pointed to on the facade and a large animated projection of a hand was shown at that location that revealed the interiors, which corresponded to Chapultepec Castle, the Habsburg residence in Mexico City.
Association Creation
"bump", Linz, Austria, 1999
A catwalk - 1.5 by 20 meters - is installed in the public space of each city involved. When a person steps onto the catwalk their weight triggers an impulse that is transferred into the other city by means of a data-line. There, a pneumatic piston raises the corresponding board by a few centimetres.
Anthony Dunne, Bill Gaver and a team from the Royal College of Art
"Projected Realities – Presence", Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1998-2000
Projected Realities is a neighborhood communication system that aims to overcome cultural and age boundaries. An automatic telephone system asks inhabitants for their opinions and to select an apposite picture from a list.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
"33 Questions Per Minute, Relational Architecture 5", Havana, Cuba, 2000 (Spanish), Istanbul, Turkey 2001 (English).
33 Questions Per Minute consists of a computer program which uses gramatical rules to combine words from a dictionary and generate 55 billion unique questions.
Rolf Gehlhaar
"Bridge 2000", Dublin, Ireland, 2000
An interactive sound and light installation from December - January 2000 on the new Millennium Footbridge across the Liffey in the centre of Dublin, to mark the opening of the new visitors' centre at the Guinness Storehouse.
Technology House at Brown University
"La Bastille", Providence, Rhode Island, NY, US, 2000
Containing eleven custom-built circuit boards, a twelve-story data network, a personal computer running Linux, a radio-frequency video game controller, and over 10,000 Christmas lights, La Bastille transforms Brown's fourteen-story Sciences Library into a giant video display which allows bystanders to play a game of Tetris.
Antoine Schmitt
"Les Lignes-mobiles (The Mobile-lines)", Belfort, France, 2000
A videoprojector projects lines on the floor, both according to passers-by and in an autonomous way, improvised by the computer. The passers-by are first framed by a circle and then the lines appear, which interact with these persons. Sometimes they emerge, develop connections between the passing people or attach themselves to their heels and then disappear again.
Rolf Gehlhaar
"Stairs", Hayward Gallery, London, UK, 2000
The steps leading to the Hayward Gallery down from Waterloo Bridge and the ramp from the Royal Festival Hall were sensitised; movement by persons along or across them generated sounds which were made audible by multiple local loudspeakers.
Rolf Gehlhaar
"Tunnel", Glastonbury, Scotland, 2000
An interactive sound installation in the small tunnel connecting the Greenfield sites; during the day (11am - 1am) some 3000 persons passed through every hour.
Germaine Koh
"By the way" Torre de los Vientos", Mexico City, 2000
Koh places a live audio-video feed in a 15-metre-high conical structure in Mexico City that monitors passing traffic. “The audio feed is processed by an effects unit to resemble gusts of wind corresponding to each passing car.”
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
"Body Movies, Relational Architecture 6", Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2001
Thousands of photo portraits taken on the streets of the cities where the project is exhibited are shown using robotically controlled projectors. The portraits only appear inside the projected shadows of local passers-by.
Government of Croydon, UK
"Skyline Project", 2001
Powerful multi-coloured floodlights and large data-projectors illuminated the Grosvenor House in Croydon, throughout the night. The community was encouraged to use the façade of the building to send messages, pictures or campaigns.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
"Two Origins, Relational Architecture 7", Toulouse, France, 2002
Two Origins transforms the emblematic Place du Capitole by projecting the heretic "Book of Two Origins", a 13th century manuscript compiling the core theological beliefs of the dualist Cathars.
Kelly Dobson
"Agora Phone", MIT, Cambridge, MASS, US, 2002
AgoraPhone consists of a phone number that can be dialed from anywhere, and a communication sculpture installed as an element of urban architecture.
Markus Schnell
"Wundschbrunnen – Dreammedia/Mediadreams", Basel, Switzerland, 2002
An existing well is turned into a virtual 'desire well' with the help of the digital media. If one sends a wish by SMS or Mail, the well starts to live by a light play and the wish transforms into a virtual coin at the ground. If a person bends forward over the edge, the well reacts in real time and one of the wishes becomes visible.
Friedrich v. Borries, Gesa Glück, Tobias Nuemann, André Schmidt
"Chat-stop: Communikation instead of Surveillence", Germany
Chat stops are bus and streetcar stops, which are equipped with interactive video technology. Participants can start a "video conference" with somewhere else who is waiting at a stop.
Susanne Schuricht, Tobias Schmidt
"freequent traveller", Berlin, Germany
Participants' motions are tracked while lying in a hammock. These movements are transformed into texts of short essays and excerpts from e-mails about mobility, home and identity.
Maki Ueda
"Hole in the Earth", Rotterdam, Netherlands – Shanghai, China
"An installation which takes place on the two sides on the earth simultaneously. Through this 'virtual hole', people can see and hear the other side of the earth. The 'hole' is made with a set of computer, monitor, webcamera, speaker, microphone. Through the internet, real-time audio and visual connection is being made."
Sha Xin Wei
"Hubbub installations may be built into a bench, in a bus stop, a bar, a cafe, a school courtyard, a plaza, a park. As you walk by a Hubbub installation, some of the words you speak will dance in projection across the surfaces according to the energy and prosody of your voice."
Achim Wollscheid
"Nordpol-bridge", City West, Bochum, Germany
Lights are placed on a pedestrian bridge at the entrance to the West-Park, These lights illuminate as the pedestrian walks by. If there are two or more people that cross it will generate additional light-patterns that change in frequency with the respective speed of the crossers.
Martin Kermes
"Spolus", Prague, Czech
People lined up at a Prague tram station are filmed by a surveillance camera whose footage is published in real time on a website. Individuals are tagged with text then the images and comments are shown on a large screen opposite the station, allowing current tram waiters to view projections of the preceding queue of commuters.
Natalie Jeremijenko
"Trigger the Loma Preita Pony"
A participant puts a quarter into a childrens ride and the motor triggers the motion of the horse according to the seismic activity of the 1989 Loma Preita earthquake.
Heiko Hansen, Mina Hagedorn
"Waitingsignals", Osnabrueck, Germany
This installation consisted of eight light tubes that reacted to the movements of passersby via ultrasonic sensors. If a sensor is triggered for a longer while, one by one all of the lamps will start to pulse in rhythm. This networked light play can be interrupted at any point or time by interfering with another ultrasonic beam.
Nodoka Ui
"Wave Rings", Japan
This water installation allows people to communicate by using ripples of water and sound as pleasant media in place of language.
Noriyuki Fujimura, Nodoka Ui
"World/World", Neunkirchen, Germany, Tokyo, Japan
A poll that virtually runs through the earth emerges on one end in Neunkirchen, Germany and the other at a public space in Tokyo. Participants can push and pull this pole on one side of the earth and someone on the other side may push back. Participants can see the motion of the pole and persons they are communicating with on the other side of the earth.
Electroland – Urban Spectacle
"11th and Flower", Los Angeles, CA US, 2003
This project consists of a luminous field of LED lights embedded into the entry walkway that respond to the presence of visitors; a massive display of lights on the building face that mirror the patterns of the entry; and video displays in the lobby and entry areas. Environmental intelligence and surveillance of human activity are combined with a video-game sensibility. Activities on the walkway also trigger massive light displays on the building face. When the walkway interactivity is triggered users witness their impact on the building face via a video display. Response is instantaneous.
Gerfried Stocker, Horst Hörtner, Heimo Ranzenbacher
"CO.IN.CIDE", Judenburg: Zentrum, Graz, Austria, 2003
CO.IN.CIDE tracks participants' silhouettes. If they overlap, the surface of the bodies becomes visible as a mirror; if they match, a channel of communication opens between the two places. These traces are then sent to an Internet 3D space.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
"Frequency & Volume, Relational Architecture 9", Mexico City, 2003
Frequency and Volume consists of between 100 and 800 square metres of projected shadows which allow participants to scan the radio spectrum of the city with their bodies.
Phone interface

Electroland – Urban Spectacle
"R-G-B", Los Angeles, CA, US, 2001
Computer controlled colored lights fill 81 windows extending over 180 meters at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc.) Patterns are controlled by cellphone by any caller from any location, raising issues concerning private interaction and control of public spaces. The installation is viewable both inside the building and from the exterior.
Rude Architecture
"Urban_diary", Berlin, Germany, 2001-2002
Cellphone users could send messages via SMS technology to an ‘urban-diary’ that was projected onto a pair of screens located above the tracks at the Alexanderplatz station in Berlin.
Raumschiff Interactive GMBH
"Paintball", Artuniversity, Hauptplatz, Linz, Austria
A cell phone call triggers a catapult that fires brightly colored paintballs at a large-format screen.
Claude Hidber
"Lik-Lak, Light Information Cube and Anonymous Communication", Basel, Switzerland, 2002
In a pedestrian underpass a light cube, whose colour changes depending on the time of day or surroundings) is installed, which gives passers-by the possibility to leave message by means of SMS. At certain times of the day or night a pre-selected message will be displayed.
Jaap De Jonge
"Speakers Corner", The Media Centre, Huddersfield, UK
Participants can interact with this piece in three ways: by sending a text message, by using the phone booth outside The Media Centre which converts speech into text, or through the "Speakers Corner" website. Comments will then be archived and queued to a 15 metre long interactive LED text display fixed to the outside of The Media Centre in Huddersfield. This piece runs 24 hours a day.

Hello Peace
This project utilizes an automated telephone system, with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to connect Palestinians and Isrealis to each other to engage in discussions about peace and conflict resolution. Since early October 2002 over 210,000 calls have been placed.

Sol B. River
"Two Tracks and Text Me", Leeds, UK, 2003
This play is a technological thriller where the cast sends each other text messages onstage?. The audience can then text message their comments after the show.

"Communicate!", Edinburgh Royal Museum, Scotland, 2003
During the exhibition entitled "Communicate!", has a giant mobile phone on the floor which allows visitors to text using their feet and also a machine where people can practice the art of Morse code.

"See My SMS", Paris, France, 2003
In the Nokia boutique of Parisian Left Bank department stores, customers will be able to purchase cards that offer cell phone screen savers by famous contemporary artists to be downloaded.
Many other companies are offering a similar type of screen saver download.
Please refer to the following websites for more details:
Sheron Wray and Fleeta Siegel
"Texterritory", Cambridge, UK, 2003
The multi-media, non-linear narrative breaks the line between the audience and the performing artists; it is told through texting/photo-messaging, dance, music, spoken word and animation.
GPS interface

Laura Kurgan
"You Are Here: Museu", Barcelona, Spain, 1995
An antenna on the roof of the Museu d’Art Contemporani stored and processed real-time GPS data and displayed it on the walls inside the gallery.
Iain Mott, Marc Raszewski, Jim Sosnin
"Sound Mapping", Linz, Austria, 1998
Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks participants as they wheel four movement-sensitive, sound producing which play music in response to nearby architectural features and the movements of individuals.
Kim Wyon, Simon Louis-Jensen
"hypercomplex space", Copenhagen, Denmark 2002
A hypercomplex space is an interactive, computer-generated computer game and art installation where participants play via internet, WAP-phone or in public space in Copenhagen. The computer game is transmitted real-time to a big screen on a building in front of Tivoli Gardens on Vesterbrogade.
Blast Theory
"Can You See Me Now?", Rotterdam, Netherlands,
For a period of five days on-line players are chased by living pawns in the streets of Rotterdam. When participants log-on their virtual counterpart will appear somewhere on the city grid. In the street the on-line players' positions are relayed via satellite and the Global Positioning System (GPS) to palmtops carried by the pawns.
Blast Theory
"Uncle Roy All Around You", London, UK, 2003
Using web cams, audio and text messages online players and street players must work together to search for and find Uncle Roy on the streets of London.

Non-Interactive Public Art

Many artists work with projected light and images to create a discourse surrounding public space, politics, alienation, etc. to inspire and engage their audience.

Lighting based

Max Skladanowsky
Bioskop, Berlin, Germany 1895
"In the summer of 1892 Skladanowsky made one of the first motion pictures using the then new Kodak [celluloid] film in his Bioscop camera/projector system. On November 1, 1895, some two months in advance of the Lumière Brothers show at the Salon Indienne, Skladanowsky projected moving pictures to a paying public using his Bioskop at the Berlin Wintergarten."
Auguste and Louis Lumière
Le Cinematographe, Paris, France 1895
"Auguste and Louis Lumiere are credited with the world's first public film screening on December 28, 1895. The showing of approximately ten short films lasting only twenty minutes in total was held in the basement lounge of the Grand Cafe on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris and would be the very first public demonstration of their device they called the Cinematograph which effectively functioned as camera, projector and printer all in one."
Joost van Santan
"Monument at Museumplein", Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1975
Joost van Santan's light sculpture monument at Museumplein commemorates the female prisoners in Ravensbruck concentration camp. This installation is in collaboration with Jan Van Belkum.
Mischa Kuball
"Megazeichen VI", Düsseldorf, Germany, 1990
A skyscraper is temporarily transformed into a carrier of artistic symbols. These symbols have been carefully planned by the artist in his studio and the realised with the aid of modern technology.
Mischa Kuball
"Private Light/Public Light", Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1998
In this piece, public and private sources of light are taken from their respective contexts and, with the aid of certain devices, used as light sources in the other lighting situations.
Simone Decker
"Go Weiss, Weisser Geht's Nicht", (As White As Can Be) Borken, Germany 2001
Realities:united – Jan Edler and Tim Edler
"BIX", Kunsthaus, Graz, Austria
BIX is a light- and media installation which transforms the acrylic glass facade of the Kunsthaus in a low resolution grey scale computer display using approximately 1100 circular, computer controlled fluorescent light tubes.
James Turrell
"The Roden Crater Project", California, US, 1989-2005
Turrell's "Roden Crater Project" allows participants to stand in the present and see both past and future through use of light and space.

Projection based

Krzystof Wodiczko
"Martin Luther Kirche", Kassel, Germany 1987
In Wodiczko's site-specific piece "Martin Luther Kirche" the image of a person praying in a hazardous materials protection suite was projected on the front of the Martin Luther Church. This church was one of the few buildings that survived the bombings of World War I.
Jonathan Park
IBA Duisburg-Meiderich Ironworks, Duisburg, Germany 1996
In 1985 the ironworks in Duisburg-Meiderich were shut down after 82 years. The ironworks was then transformed into an art park with night projections on the exterior by Jonathan Park.
Leni Shwendinger, Leni Schwendinger Light Project Ltd.
"Public Dramas/Passionate Correspondents", 1996
Leni Schwendinger creates site-specific environmental sculptures and large-scale projection performances for public spaces. The objective of Schwendinger's work is to connect people to each other and to their surroundings.
"Public Projection No.2", Frederiksberg City Hall, Denmark, 1996
As part of a series of 4 "Public Projections", No. 2 consisted of 7 film-projections and 2 sound sources. Images of mites, ants, caterpillars and eye motifs were manipulated and projected as film loops from within seven windows of city hall. The loops repeated itself in cycles of 6 minutes, with 4 minute breaks.

Hiro Yamagata
"Sculpture of Light, Laser Installation", First Street Bridge, L.A. River, CAL, US, 1998

"Soft Sell", New York City, USA, 1998
A video installation of giant lips on the entrance to an abandoned porn theatre offering various “come-ons and questions notions of currency”.
Chris Doyle
"Leap", Columbus Circle, New York City, USA, 2000
Chris Doyle's installation "Leap" is a combination of moving images and architecture utilizing outdoor screens and large-scale video projections. This piece examines the use of moving images on architecture for corporate advertising purposes and attempts to rescue urban architectural space from corporate use.
Jorge Orta
"Life Nexus", Hôpital Psychiatrique, Québec, CA, 2000
The "Life Nexus" installation projects an image of the heart, a symbol of humanity, to question the relationships that we create or fail to create, in our individualistic and commercial societies. "Life Nexus" is in collaboration with participants of the workshops of Folie/Culture and the Centre hospitalier Robert-Giffard.
Vuk Cosic
"ASCII Architecture", Liverpool, UK, 2001
"The project consists in fully covering the St. Georges Hall with the projection of ascii rendering of the same surface that it's being projected on."
Hiro Yamagata
"Photon 999", Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain, 2001
Fifteen laser systems, placed strategically around the outer edge of a reflecting pool, project beams of laser light in many different colors. The beams are projected toward a series of structures placed along the contour of the pool, at the edge of the building exterior. These beams of laser light transform the pathway into an unexpected, yet inviting, enclosed space.
Cerith Wyn Evans
"Cleave 03", Venice, Italy, 2003
Wyn Evans had an excerpt of the Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsc (Visions of the Sleeping Bard) piece translated into Morse code, which he then projected into the sky.



Les Levine
"Slipcover", Art Gallery of Toronto, Ontario, 1966
"Slipcover" showed viewers recorded images of themselves on a series of monitors?

Dan Graham
"Private Public Space: The Corporate Atrium Garden", 1987
Together with Robin Hurst, Graham investigates the city at the interface between urbanity and nature through these six panels.
Toshio Iwai
"Well of Lights and Music Insects", 1992
Well of Lights Iwai used computer graphics and a video projector to create several hundred animated aquatic creatures that "swim," play, and change form in an ethereal vivid blue environment that suggests both air and water. Music Insects merged sound and computer images to create abstract "music insects" that "react" to color dots on the computer screen. The user creates a color path for the insects and random musical performances that the artist has termed "visual music."
Peter Greenway
"Treppen, München" (Stairs, Munich), Munich, Germany 1995
"In the first exhibition of this kind Greenway used artificial stairs to illustrate the theme of Location and placed them in various parts of major cities in Europe. For the second he used less stairs but more lighting to illustrate the theme Projection."
Associates in Media Engineering Online
"Lights of Liberty", Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, 1998
The "Lights of Liberty" is world's first sound and light show that guides participants through events in the American Revolution. In this interactive tour, each visitor is given individual wireless headsets to hear audio effects and commentaries while had-painted images are projected onto the actual historical buildings.
"Master/Slave", 1999
Miniature Japanese robots move single file along a conveyer belt, scrutinized by a surveillance system. Viewers monitor this system in the gallery, transforming them from spectator to inspector.
Gruppe FOK
"TeleKletterGarten", Linz, Austria, 2003
TeleKletterGarten is a giant climbing wall that has a computer keyboard integrated into it. Radio-equipped climbers obey instructions given by activating one of the 64 computer keys, with commands associated to them.
MIT hackers
"The Green Building Sound (UV) Meter", Boston, Mass, US, 2003
MIT hackers converted the top of the Green Building (Bldg. 54) into the world's largest sound (VU) meter. Composed of nine 6x4 foot apertures that were lit by red lights, the huge meter was almost 250 times the size of an ordinary stereo sound meter. The total output of the meter was over 5,000 watts.
Klaus and Alexander Kada
"The Mirrored City", Graz, Austria, 2003
"The installation "The Mirrored City" enables new spatial experiences, thereby encouraging viewers to reflect on familiar and not so familiar features."
"Nikeground", Vienna, Austria, 2003
Through a fake guerrilla marketing campaign? and "hyper-real theatrical performance" involving Nike, this group raises questions of public space and corporate branding.

Sky Art

Otto Piene
"Olympic Rainbow", XX Olympic Games Munich, Germany, 1972
One of Piene's "Sky Art" projects was the 1,600 foot "Olympic Rainbow" for the closing ceremony of the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
Sky Writing:
The first Sky Writing to be demonstrated in England was in May, 1922 by Capt. Cyril Turner of the Royal Air Force. It was in the same year that Turner also demonstrated skywriting in the US, over Times Square in New York City. He wrote letters in the sky a half-mile high using oil dropped on the planes hot exhaust pipe and manipulated by levers.
AVIAD, New York City
"Utilizing the expertise of AVIAD pilots, artists have employed AVIAD to execute complex designs in the sky."
Venice Biennial 2001
Site-specific drawings were made by the artist and re-drawn in skywriting. The artists are: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Vik Muniz, Dave Muller, Paul McCathy, Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller, Gabriel Orozco, Valie EXPORT, Koo Jeong-a, Jeff Wall, Glen Ligon, and Olafur Eliasson. Commissioned for the 2001 Venice, Biennial.


General Information

Known as Hotaru in Japanese, Fireflies are nocturnal luminous insects of the beetle family Lampyridae, consisting of 1,900 species that inhabit both tropical and temperate climates. There are 19 known species in Japan.

The underside of the abdomen has light organs that glow in luminous flashes. The abdomen consists of several layers of small reflector cells and a layer of light producing cells. All Larvae and eggs are bioluminescent, though not all adults are. Some rely on pheromones to communicate. They illuminate to warn predators that they taste bad and biolumination is essential to their mating rituals utilizing flash patterns.

Flash patterns and responses are species specific as well as geographically distinguishable. The 'receivers' perception of, processing of, and responses to stimuli determine the response and how well it is transmitted and received. Females choose males based on their flash pattern and prefer males with the brightest flash.

Japanese (Old World) nocturnal Fireflies utilize four separate Flash Communication signals when mating. System I is where the female broadcasts short, continuous flash signals, a flying male recognizes it and approaches her; System II involves the flying male emitting a pulsating signal, the stationary female, usually located on the ground in tall grass recognizes it and responds with a flashed answer. This flashed response has characteristic form and time delay relative to the males' pattern. Once the female has answered, the two continue a flash pattern, dialogue, as the male gets closer. The dialogue ends in copulation.; System III (LL) involves the flying male emitting one flash, the female recognizes it and begins to flash. The male then approaches the female and converts his pattern into single twinkling flashes directed at the female. They both keep emitting their flashes at one another until copulation occurs; System IV (LC) is when the flying males associate and emit synchronous flashes, the female(s) recognize these signals and emit a single pulsed flash which a male perceives, then approaches her and copulates. Non-nocturnal fireflies rely on pheromones attract a mate.

Certain Asian species of firefly, like the Pteroptyx species, aggregate in synchronously flashing swarms on Mangrove Trees (Firefly trees) and females come to them. In order for the flashes to be classified as synchronous there must be rhythmic and repetitive patterns with a tendency toward unison, either in an anticipatory synchrony or a machrony (wave synchrony) display. Synchronous Flash patterns are species specific, therefore the males display a specific flash pattern at highly precise intervals (a mean of interflash of 556.3 milliseconds).


Santocho Firefly Festival
Amanogawa River, which runs east to west through Santocho, Shiga Prefecture is host to 19 species of "Hotaru". Each June there is a Firefly Festival.

Nagusa Firefly Festival
The Firefly Festival is held in "Nagusa Firefly Village". The fireflies are Genji Fireflies, and usually can be seen from about 8pm to 9pm. The best time to see the fireflies is on a muggy, rainless night.

Iwakura Onsen Hotaru Matsuri (Firefly Festival)
Iwakura Onsen is a quaint hot spring village located in the north of Ome city. A lot of tourists visit the place wising to see the fireflies during the "Hotaru Matsuri" period every year. The festival has been popular among people from long ago as a typical summer event. From June 21-July 15, 2003.

Muju Firefly Festival, Korea
Running in August, the festival activities include: Prayer festival for firefly prosperity, mysterious exploration of lightning bugs, release of daseulgi (food for the firefly larva), firefly lectures, ecology photograph exhibition, environmental speech contest, drawing contest, writing contest.


DENSO Project, Nishio, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
DENSO works to preserve the environment and local ecology with the conservation of the Heigen Genjibotaru no Sato in Nishio, an area where the rare Genji Firefly breeds;

Hotaru Project, Kitakyushu, Japan
The Hotaru Project in Kitakyushu, Shiga Prefecture along the Kokumano River funded by the organization, Urban Habitat Rehabilitation. The "Hotaru" or Firefly Project aimed to rehabilitate the Kokumano River and to restore riverbank flora and fauna while simultaneously instilling a sense of pride and ownership in a community.

Firefly Village, Fukuoka City, Japan
The creation of the Firefly Village and walking routes in Fukuoka City through the Sawara Ward as part of a city initiative to give the Ward a hometown look with water, plants, and fireflies. Also included in this initiative was the expansion of Muromi River cleaning activities and other citizen activities such as citizen-sponsored firefly cultivation and release and observations of aquatic life.


Isao Takahata - Director
"Grave of the Fireflies" Japan, 1988
This film is a Japanese animé about two children from Kobe who have been left homeless by the bomb. Acclaimed and very popular.

Takae Kawase
This video is filled with grief for the beauty of old Japan that is fast disappearing, as symbolized by the image of the fireflies.


A popular Japanese song for children:

Fire-, fire-, fireflies, come.
Water over there is bitter,
Water over here is sweet.
Fire-, fire-, fireflies, come.

A Japanese popular song titled "Hotaru-no-Hikari", which means fireflies' light, is commonly sung as a farewell one. It is as popular as the national anthem of Japan, because it is sung by all students at the graduation ceremonies of most schools in Japan. Japanese people sing it as a final program at the closing ceremonies of events, such as the Olympics, the sumo league series, the NHK TV annual popular song show at the end of the year and so on.
The song begins with an old style of words,
"The days when we read books in the light of fireflies and snow by the windows, have passed, ------",
and ends with:
"we'll part from each other this morning, opening the past gate".

Firefly Art:

The artists listed below all have a firefly motif in their pieces, if not a direct reference to the insect. The bioluminescent light of the firefly is often a key factor in the work.

Rebecca Horn
"Bee's Planetary Map", 1998
15 Straw baskets, wire, motors, broken mirror disk, shattered mirror glass, metal rods, wooden stick, rock, sound, lights.
Daniele Imperiale
"You Are Not Forgotten", 2001
Egg tempera on goatskin parchment.
Terry Lynch
"P.Pyralis Totem Carpet", 2001
"P. Pyralis Totem Carpet" is an abstract digital art design produced by morphing the head of a P. Pyralis larva worn as a crown by the artist."

 "More Alien than Alien", 2001
"Digital art produced by morphing photograph of P. Pyralis with that of the author, Terry Lynch."

George H. Seeley
"The Firefly", US, 1907
Photogravure print 20.2x15.9.
Haruki Nishijima,
Remain in Light
For the piece, "Remain in Light" Nishijima uses an "electronic insect-collecting net" or antenna to capture "electronic insects" or bits of data and displays them in an interactive environment in the form of light.

"When the light of sense goes out, but with a flash that has revealed the invisible world..."
- William Shakespeare

"... they congregate to communicate en masse, with untold thousands of individuals cooperating in huge synchronized light displays."
- Synchronous Rhythmic Flashing of Fireflies by John Buck

More resources

Electronic Café tele-everything pioneers.

Telematic Embrace comprehensive resource for historical and contemporary instances of telepresence

Interaction Field Mirjam Struppek's excellent research site on electronic art in public space.

Smart Mobs Informative weblog with frequent updates and scanning for news.

Steven Wilson – Information Arts comprehensive resource for electronic art.

Pending, future updates

Roger Malina, Roy Ascott, Paul Sermon, Torre de los Vientos, Estridentistas, Mori Tower, KPN tower, Andrea di Castro, Marc Tutters, Connective Force Attack.