Public Play and Pause


"Public art can be static, moving, part of the infrastructure or a projection of light and sound. It can last for a minute, a day, a year or a lifetime." Pavel Buchler

The Wednesday Lecturer on November 3rd was Daniel Hirschmann from South Africa and his presentation was called Play and Pause in Public Space. Hirschmann has been working in London for some years, and he is here at Umeå Institute of Design teaching interactive lighting to the second-year interaction students. Hirschmann described himself as: "artist, interaction design consultant, sometimes programmer, basically if somebody has a job and I think I can do it, I&ll be whatever they need me to be." He spends a lot of his time in South Africa and he thinks it is a very inspiring place.

Daniel presented some of his own projects, but mostly he presented projects by people he is inspired by. The projects and people, companies and organisations he talked about were the following:

  • The international network Cascoland, based in Holland. They have been doing projects in South Africa for several years, and they invite a number of artists from Europe and South Africa to collaborate and to come up with interesting challenges to the social environment and the public space. In 2007 they had a project in Johannesburg, a city where there are all sorts of barriers between people; fences, walls and gated communities to protect the people with money from the people without. This creates a lot of tension in the public spaces.

Daniel talked about two of Cascoland&s projects: De-Fencing/ Fence Furniture and Chainriders. Daniel declared one of the bonuses with living and working in South Africa to be that you do not really have to ask permission to do things in public spaces "you just do them, and hopefully nobody says no".

  • Antenna Design, one of the earlier companies working with interactive spatial things.
  • A team called CaptinCaptin who run an organisation in London called TINT have a project called the Blue Chair - a super simple idea: you sit on a chair and it inflates the other chair, which Hirschmann called "a funny play on that it takes two to tango".
  • A workshop Daniel Hirschmann did last year in Seoul at the Hongik University where one of the teams made a wonderful project using the wind, a Flute Bench: depending on where you sat on the bench it played different tunes.
  • Another project Daniel presented was by a company called ART+COM, in Berlin. Daniel said ART+COM probably is the grandfather of public space interaction installations; they have been around for about 30 years. The project Daniel showed was called Duality, and was made in Tokyo in 2007. Hirschmann described it as "an amazing connection between the digital, virtual motion that you create, and the physical world".
  • A friend of Daniel, interaction designer/artist Chris O&Shea made a project called Hand from Above in Liverpool, 2007. Land of the Giants and Goliath inspired the project and the aim was to encourage people to question their normal routine hurrying from one place to another.
  • Subway Creatures by Joshua Allen Harris is one of Daniel&s favourite projects of all time. He encouraged the listeners to check out the other projects at Wooster collective, a site dedicated to showcasing and celebrating ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world.
  • The Jason Bruges Studio, an interactive architect studio where Daniel has worked. He presented one of, in his opinion, the most interesting work that came out of there, WindToLight, London, 2007. Another project at Jason Bruges Studio that Daniel worked with is Surface Tension, 2010, and yet another is Mirror Mirror. Daniel stated that mirror interactions are the best since people love to look at themselves.

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