A Light Projection That Blurs The Boundary Between Physical And Digital

"Nervous Structure (Field)" is an elegant, hypnotic take on augmented reality.

Made in collaboration by Annica Cuppetelli and Cristobal Mendoza, Nervous Structure (Field) is an installation piece designed to confuse and then illuminate the line between the physical and digital. 144 vertical lines are strung and then 144 lines of light are projected on to them. The lines of light respond to the movement of visitors and the result is a hypnotic field of waves and moire patterns.

It’s part of a larger series that "deals with the ambiguous relationship between the real and the virtual," says Mendoza. Each of the pieces has two basic parts: There is a physical structure made of fabric or string and then a virtual structure made of projected light. "If shown independently, they are perceived immediately for what they are," says Mendoza, "but when layered they become entangled and interfere with one another."

The piece is an ambiguity designed to be solved. At first, says Mendoza, the physical arrangement of the installation is unclear (Is it a series of lights? Is there a projector?). Then, it is the nature of the movement (Is the structure moving, or is it the light?). Finally, it is the nature of the interaction (My movements are reflected in the projection). "Some ambiguities are so only because we have not studied them enough," he says. Their hope is that viewers will be intrigued enough to investigate further.


A survey of the entire series

What I love about this piece is that it’s such a simple and elegant take on flashy projection AR. I also enjoy the way that physical and virtual lines are blurred in the interaction. Even though the piece is made of (presumably) flexible string, it’s the digital world that is disturbed by visitors’ physical movements.

Every piece in the series is site specific, and Mendoza says that this results in a fair bit of improvisation at the moment of installation. Otherwise, he says, their process of creation is more characterized by length than difficulty, requiring patient continuous iteration from project to project. "In many ways the biggest challenge is finding the time in which you can think and create unhindered, to have a space in which you can experiment, fail, and eventually produce something that you are satisfied with."

[via Triangulation Blog.]

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