Starry Night…Maybe we should all turn the lights on….

June 28, 2008 by stanza Leave a reply »

This spring, a new sculpture by James Yamada entitled Our Starry Night, will be on view at Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Fifth Avenue and 60th Street. Built from powder coated aluminum and punctuated with 1,900 colored LED lights, Our Starry Night is a 12-foot-tall sculpture that acts as an interactive passageway to Central Park. As visitors to the park walk through the sculpture at all hours of the day and night, it will illuminate in response to each person individually.

When visitors walk through the portal in the piece, they trigger a metal detector hidden inside the structure’s casing. This activates the LED lights that perforate the exterior of the sculpture. Common everyday metal objects such as cell phones, keys, belts, jewelry, cameras, computers, and the like will trigger the lights; the luminosity and the light patterns seen in the piece will correspond to the quantity of metal detected. Our Starry Night is literally activated by the public, reinforcing the notion that art — and particularly public art — is dependent on the people around it.ref

With interactive media  / art it seems the that once the interactivity takes place  all one can do is make things spin or in most cases turn the LEDS on. The current fascination for for turning lights on an off with various modes of controlling device(in this case metal detection) suggests we are about to be driven crazy by all sorts of public “entertainment” art. Sort of like cheap fair found stalls  from Blackpool or Coney Island …it  all seems a bit cheap.

Surely the question is how can we find a more meaningful experience from these public interactions….turning the lights on and off ain’t the answer even if it does look pretty.

It seems the only way to justify the recent run of works of this type is in terms of it “playfullness”…..err whatever.

Playful is the default mode of interactive media , ie  when the work has no context or meaning, or the artist cannot place significant meaning around the work…..saying its is  playfull seems to be enough.

Maybe we should all turn the lights on……..or off…..


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