I am very proud that an interactive sculpture I made, in collaboration with IBM’s CTO for UK and N.Ireland, Andy Stanford Clark, has gone on display in the Head Office of IBM, Southbank, London. Not the usual audience for my work but one I am very happy about. The work had been commissioned and exhibited in a contemporary art gallery, Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight before it was installed at IBM on Wednesday. Quay Arts in conjunction with Arts Council England ran a series called Hidden Heroes on the Isle of Wight and Andy was one of the Islands heroes they decided to represent. The work not only shows a little of the technology that Andy’s has invented (he has invented a lot!) but also reflects themes within my work. Much of my work involves the public, whereby I encourage the viewer to participate and interact with the work. There is a sense of community and connectedness about it. Ferry Lights shows the position of the ferries as they traverse the Solent in real-time, mapping out their location with LEDs, as they make their journeys between the mainland and the Isle of Wight where Andy Stanford-Clark lives.
To extend the theme of connectedness and community, we decided that the LEDs around the circumference of the sculpture were to be connected to Cheerlights, an Internet of Things project created by Hans Scharler, By tweeting “#cheerlights red (or whatever colour you like) your tweet changes the colour of the LED’s thus changing the colour of the sculpture. But as Cheerlights is a connected community, not only does your tweet change the colour of Ferry Lights but it also changes the colour of Cheerlights all over the world. There is something very exciting, empowering perhaps about standing in front of a sculpture and not just being able to change its state with one written instruction but knowing that hundreds of other lights in the world have changed state too, thus connecting physical things with a shared social networking experience. I must say I am also enjoying the fact that people outside the gallery setting, and/or the corporate environment, have some say over what colour the sculpture on the wall is going to be. At IBM’s Head Office today someone outside of the corporate setting is going to decide on what colour the sculpture on the wall outside the Franklin meeting room is going to be. There is something joyful about being able to change the colours on the wall and affect the environment in a space you are not physically in and ‘interacting’ with people you have never met –perhaps someone’s day might be slightly nicer if the sculpture switched to blue, - their favourite colour.