Lamps Everywhere


I'm teaching at NYU's ITP this semester – just one course called Narrative Lab, where we look at the way the elements of story change for interactive media. It's fun stuff, and always yields some great experiments in collaboration and structure that challenge the sense of inevitability intrinsic to traditional (or at least today's market-friendly) story. Think of it as a place to engage with everything from GPS to FRPs, or both at the same time. We look at Greek drama, happenings, games, and holodecks.

But since we're only in the first couple of weeks, I've got nothing to show here. Instead, I'm delighted to share a project by a co-conspirator at ITP, Marianne Petit (the teacher who moderated the discussion between me and Scott McCloud at Comic-con this year) has been curating, hosting, and promoting some marvelously obsessive art shows.

This one, by Matt Belanger, Sean Riley, and Ven Voisey, is called Lumens, and collects lamps from people of two separate neighborhoods, bringing them together in a single reactive space. There's nothing like seeing a baby light up from the inside when you get close.

Scores of personal lamps that usually inhabit and illuminate the interiors of homes and shops have been borrowed from the residents of Adams and North Adams, Massachusetts, filling two gallery spaces: Greylock Arts in Adams and MCLA Gallery 51 Annex in North Adams. In addition to the lamps, the personal stories and histories that accompany the lamps have also been collected. These are represented in a virtual gallery on, which also serves to connect the two locations telematically. As an individual wanders through the gallery space, clusters of lamps illuminate in response to their presence and simultaneously illuminate lamps in the counterpart spaces. It is in this way that an individual in Adams can communicate his/her presence to an individual in North Adams, and vice versa. Additionally, as visitors investigate the history of a particular lamp online it also illuminates in the physical gallery space.

(Douglas Rushkoff is a guestblogger)