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Nuit Digitale 2012

March 31th, 2012
La Nuit Digitale ( the digital night ) is the highlight of a yearly, one week-long event in Bordeaux devoted to exhibitions, talks and meetings around the digital theme.
This year, the CAPC ( museum of contemporary art ) became the venue of choice for an event that gathered 3000 visitors and partyers.

We were commissioned by Digital Campus to exhibit a new interactive piece. The installation that we unveiled adorned the giant nave of Entrepôt Lainé with two large screens that participants fed actively with photographs and texts_ a live performance that went on for a rough nine hours.

Scenario

For this challenging event, we focused on three themes : aesthetics, interactivity, and timescale.

As a large-sized installation to be showcased in the prestigious historical building of contemporary art museum, we designed our image to match the stylish mood of that place, sticking to monochromatic hues and carefully aligning the texts.
Interactivity came from two sources: not only people could send their messages to a dedicated phone number, but also they could use one of the hostesses dispatched in the building to make a picture for sending to the installation. The flow of images was powered by MCE which identified participants thanks to RFID wristbands.
Lastly, we matched the chronology of our installation to the length of the event, by not revealing too soon the purpose of the installation. Words were piling up in structures whose shape wasn't identifiable at first. As the party went on, the letters started to show consistent arrangements resembling buildings and streets. When nearing the end of the night, the public witnessed the apparition of colors and aerial viewpoints, until they finally saw the big picture, unveiled in the last moments: the owl logo, symbol of the event, built out of messages and images from thousands of participants.

A live performance

Backstage, we had a bunch of screens and computers to control the system in real time. One computer was used for a moderator to filter the incoming messages. Another one had a custom-designed tool that allowed the operator to place on the structure the incoming messages.
It was a continuous flow of texts coming in, that we had to treat in a hurry. A team of 3 wasn't too much to face the intensity of the party. Funnily enough, we had developed a Tetris-like game to place the incoming blocks of texts and images. Using either the mouse or the keyboard arrows, the operator could move, scale, rotate the falling blocks, in order to fill up the grids without leaving blanks. At the peak moments of the party, the number of messages waiting to be placed went up to 40!

Online feedback

A few weeks after the Nuit Digitale night, we provided a little feedback by installing a web application (nuitdigitale.2roqs.com) in which users can manipulate in 3D ( with WebGL ) the structure they have created altogether during the event.
Participants may keep track of all the messages and pictures they had sent by entering their mobile phone number.

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