A Picture Tells a Thousand Stories

Event: Objects, Environments, People, Stories: Building the blurring line between the physical and the virtual.
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.11.09
Speakers: James Tichenor & Joshua Walton — New Media Leads, Interaction Lab at Rockwell Group
Organizers: AIANY Technology Committee
Sponsors: ABC Imaging

Hall of Fragments.

Courtesy of the Rockwell Group

“Our physical spaces do not reflect our virtual selves anymore,” explained James Tichenor and Joshua Walton, new media leads of the Interaction Lab at Rockwell Group. Instead, they believe the physical and the virtual blend through interactive experiences augmented with digital technology, and it is important for the designers to remove people from the electronic world of handheld devices and place them into the space around them.

Tichenor and Walton see each project as a “storytelling” opportunity. At the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto, for example, friezes hang above the heads of the guests, reacting to the movement of those who pass below with digital renderings of natural forms like leaves, butterflies, flowers, waves, and snow. Similarly, the “Hall of Fragments,” designed in collaboration with jones | kroloff for the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, was an interactive entrance installation that distorted movie clips into prisms, which are then projected onto screens.

Each project is “like a landscape,” Tichenor and Walton explained. They need to be maintained after they are created. And just as in any landscape, there are aspects that cannot be controlled. While creating the pieces, the designers ask themselves questions such as, “How will people relate to objects? What stories will people tell? How will people relate to each other?” The answers come only when the project is built and people start using it. In a way, all of the projects are “props” that contribute to stories that have yet to be conceived.