Jesse James Allen and Charlie Jicha are co-workers at Falcon’s Creative Group, a themed experience design company based Orlando Florida.
Over the past summer, the two had been exploring new and tactile interactive solutions and were intrigued by the product offerings from Bare Conductive.
Their first real-world application of the Bare Conductive Touch Board was for a social event for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). Charlie painted a canvas with flowers coated in the conductive paint. Jesse created the sounds and wired the Touch Board into the back of the frame, powered by a battery. As anticipated, audiences really enjoyed the unique interactive canvas, and that experience got the two thinking of how to evolve the design.
Not long after the event, Jesse started exploring the MIDI abilities of the Touch Board. Using online code for the Arduino Board, he converted the Touch Board from an audio playback device into a MIDI device that sent commands into projection mapping software called HeavyM Live. He then created visuals and assembled a sequence of sounds and patterns that were projection mapped.
This video, along with some of Allen’s other interactive experiments, got the attention of the Creative City Project organization who formally invited him to participate in their massive annual arts festival in downtown Orlando, called “Immerse”.
What they wanted to create is an augmented reality experience that did not need a headset or a phone to see. “Something accessible to everyone,” says Allen.
After several rounds of ideation, they focused in on recreating a six-winged Seraphina angel that could incorporate themes of angelic lore into an interactive experience. The angelic shape would be easy to associate and intriguing for audiences to explore. Charlie built the 7ft tall angel from scratch using foam core, light plaster, feathers, and PVC.
The interactive component needed to be accessible and intuitive, so the two conceptualised and designed a book on a pedestal that could contain all of the interactive input devices. Charlie designed and built the book to look weathered and ancient, with five interactive touch points using Electric Paint in the shapes of religious symbols.
Each of the symbols covered a small metal screw that connected to the Touch Board. A small lavaliere microphone and a Leap Motion Controller were also embedded into the book to allow audiences to interact and engage with the angel by touch, speech, and gesture.
The Touch Board acted as a MIDI controller, sending program change data as symbols in the book were touched. The Unity game engine drove the interactive graphics via the Leap Motion Controller, while HeavyM Live ran all the audio interactivity and projection mapping for the physical sculpture.
The book controller was connected to a powerful MSI gaming laptop that ran the projection mapping show. Touching one of the painted symbols in the book would trigger a different visual story that could be further influenced by speech or gesture inputs to change the colours and patterns on “The Seraph”.
The following video for ”The Seraph” gives a behind the scenes look at the development process before it premiered.
The Seraph’s debut at Immerse was very positive, with at least several hundred people experiencing its unique interactivity across the two-day event. Allen adds, “Bare Conductive technology really made a huge impact on this project. It gave our audiences the ability to physically connect with the art and it was obvious by their reactions that was a powerful way for them to experience interactivity.”
Images & Video: Jesse James Allen & Charlie Jicha
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