Communication Gaps is a luminescent art piece which connects two strangers through light, sound, and motion. First unveiled at Baltimore Light City Festival, this installation bridged Piers 4 and 5 together with an array of twenty-four reflective portals floating in the water. When two strangers approached this installation from opposite piers, they would first record their greeting message in to a microphone. Then, using body-tracking cameras, their body movements would be converted into sliced up greeting messages along with pulses of colorful light over the water.
Designed by GSP.studio founder/artist Greg St. Pierre, Imaginex was contracted to bring GSP’s unique interactive experience to life. Through collaboration with local Baltimore artists, implementation of custom LED software, and management of fabrication and programming, we successfully brought Greg’s vision to life utilizing over 5,000 LEDs, 2,400 ft of underwater cable, and 24 uniquely fabricated light structures.
GSP.studio approached Imaginex to bring his project to fruition. During the design phase, we met directly with Greg to optimize the project by improving design and integrating new softwares. Imaginex created renders, CAD drawings, network diagrams, and proof-of-concepts to assist GSP through the design phase.
The reflective portals were constructed in Baltimore, not far from where it would be installed. Since the main feature of Communication Gaps floats in the waters of the harbor, not only did we make the LED technologies completely waterproof, but it was also engineered to survive the shifting tides and water level surges during storms.
Communication Gaps is powered by a custom version of GeoPix – a pixel mapping solution designed by Imaginex’r Lucas Morgan. The backbones of this software allows for precise pixel mapping abilities and a live 3D previz, so the client was able to preview looks before we arrived on site. Additional features were added such as camera processing, an Ableton interface, and camera feeds, using the powerful TouchDesigner programming environment.
We were challenged to create a strong feeling of connection between the light structures and the guests communicating with the piece. Our team utilized two Microsoft Kinect sensors to track users’ body movements. As a participant danced, they were directly controlling sweeps of LED animations. Special LED and audio FX were manipulated when the participants had high-energy movements or when moving in harmony.
Audio played an important role in Communication Gaps. When a participant first interacted with the artpiece, they were instructed to say “Hello, my name is” into a microphone. A recording of this message was then automatically sampled and sliced with a custom Max4Live patch designed by Patrick McMinn. As the participant danced, they would be remixing their own voice in sync with the color-changing reflective portals. Original background soundtracks were also produced to provide a tempo for the voice recordings and light show to synchronize to.
Artist/Production Designer: Greg St. Pierre (GSP.studio)
Production Manager: Alan Curtiss (Imaginex)
Concept Design/Artist Assistant: Samir Taylor
Technical Director: Eric Mintzer (Imaginex)
Project Manager: Kim Domanski
Engineering Design: Nate Towles
Sound Design: Dan Deacon
Sound Programming: Patrick McMinn
Soundtrack: Albert Schatz
Software Developers: Lucas Morgan (Imaginex), Eric Mintzer (Imaginex)
Senior Hardware Developers: Alan Curtiss, Samir Taylor, Nate Towles, Zach Leeman
Soundtrack: Albert Schatz
Hardware Assistants: Tony Ingelido, Vance Hooper, Dan Bogachek, Laura Clayton, Shane Humphrey
Video Design: James Johnson (Imaginex)
Volunteer Coordinators: Jaime Kauffman, Masi Ngidi-Brown
Volunteers: Emily Bock, Heather Bradbury, Greg Chaprnka, Dav Clark, Sage Cogswell, Annette Fallon, Zak Forrest, Samantha Garner, Erin Gleeson, Michael Hooper, Georgio James, Janel Jin, Ben Johnson, Anya Jones, Katie “O” Kamieniecki, Rob Kempton, Sarah McHugh, Tom Mclean, Molly McNulty, Christine Miller, Sholeh Mirzai, William Moore, Shane Moritz, Gordon Moseley, Masi Ngidi-Brown, Carmen Ortiz, Justin Quick, Alisa Robinson, Maura Roth-Gormley, William Ryerson, Erika Samis, Melissa Smith, John Somers, Drew Swinburne, Manu Unni, Carly Wais, Brian Weitz, Nate Yielding, Jacque York, Soccer Without Borders Baltimore