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Guest blog: Getting creative with buildings

Big Ben showing the 2010 UK election exit polls

Using Big Ben as a canvas. Image: Christopher Furlong, Getty Images News

Homes, offices, shops and clock towers. When we live or work in urban centres we are surrounded by buildings. Some are old. Some are new. Some are ugly and dreary. Others are almost works of art. I mentioned in my previous post about the need to engage people, in an emotive way, when presenting information you actually want someone to take notice of. My post today is about using the buildings we have all around us to create ‘art’. I’m not suggesting we all go out, grab a can of spray paint and create some ‘art’ on the wall of the first building we find. I’m talking about digital art through projection and video media. It’s probably worth saying that this isn’t an area I have a great deal of expertise in, but I think it’s cool, bringing together elements of technology and creative art to weave information into the fabric of our environment.

If we treat the walls and surfaces around us as a blank digital canvas, we can create engaging images and illustrations that get people to stand up, take notice and then tell everyone about what they have seen. The image above is the BBC’s projection of the UK 2010 election exit poll onto St Stephen’s tower that houses Big Ben. What a great way to show the election results at the end of polling day. The area around Big Ben was abuzz with people discussing the election and snapping photos of the poll, a prime example of the point I’m trying to illustrate.

What else could you do with this sort of art? Well the possibilities are almost endless. For the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009, US company Obscura Digital created a visual representation of 1 tonne of CO2 and beamed it onto a cube the size of a three storey building. Check out the image below. You can find out more about it on Obscura’s site, here.

Obscura Digital's CO2 Cube

A visual representation of 1 tonne of CO2, the size of a three storey building. The world produces 80 million tonnes of CO2 per day! Image: Obscura Digital

This is a creative technology (video projection) that has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and I believe we will see it used more and more in the future to showcase information. It’s certainly something I’d like to get involved with in the future as it’s such a powerful medium through which to engage people. I can just imagine, at night, having a giant KyotoTV beamed onto the open area of Old Market Square showing live energy usage of the council building or some of the pubs in the square, ticking up and down, along with recommendations on how to save energy. How cool would that be?


Here’s more background about our guest blogger, Aaron Cottrell.

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