Control Crowd – crowd responsive animations at Summer Live in Vancouver.

the site

projected shapes animated by density of crowd

This installation had many aims, to be entertaining, and to create the feeling of being in an experience. Behind the scenes there was another aim; to see if animations based on crowd movement could create something that in some way would appear to have a life of its own. In recent installations of this type that I have created with my company Urban Visuals, we use a generative software platform (usually processing) to create an app that in turn creates these animations. The occasion was the 125th anniversary party for the city of Vancouver staged in the remarkably beautiful Stanley Park. What interests me most is the passive nature of the piece, and its meaning which comes mainly from contemplation once you are aware of how it works. 

patterns in the haze

There is also a component to this installation that is very immediate and visceral, its scale, its presence and movement. The scripting consists really of  a set of constraints such as boundaries, edges, voids and other forms are mixed with variables generated by sense input from the immediate environment, in this case, a large festival crowd. Together the fixed and the variable create a self perpetuating animation in real time that is generated, in effect, by its immediate surroundings. The scene above I can only describe as the most ‘west coast’ feeling moment we have ever created live.

white blocks illuminate foliage
timber motif 1

Near the end of the three day event we played the timber motif (balls) and at this point in the installation the experience became something unto itself. The falling balls signified timber, and began to fall and collect in areas wehere there was more crowd movement. Standing back and looking at the scene from a sloping grassy knoll one felt completely immersed in the experience, where space, event and audience merged into one kinetic impression.

Here is a quote from a colleague: “Hey Konstantinos, So last night I went to go see Dan Mangan at the “Summer Live 125” festivities, and saw you working the booth (as well as the “Urban Visuals” logo on the grass), and I just had to let you know that you guys did a FANTASTIC JOB. We had a great view cause we were sitting on the hill facing the trees, and were constantly blown away by what you guys were doing, as were the people around us. Everyone around us was talking about it the whole time and just loved it.I could ramble on, but I’ll keep it short.. You took an already-awesome event and just took it to a whole new level, it became an “experience”. So thank you for that. Please pass the praise and thanks onto your team as well, I’m sure it took a lot of work.”


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