Interactive installations for clubbing

0bbbbbbbipo.jpgTODO, the organizers and curators of BIP 2007 – building interactive playgrounds are looking for interaction design projects that could enhance an electronic music festival in a meaningful way.

If you’re an (interaction) designer, artist, researcher, architect, or student who has developed interactive installations, environments, sound and/or visual projects for events and public spaces, now is your chance to find out if your work can withstand two nights of extremely intense use in an indoor venue with thousands of people.

BIP will take place this Summer in Florence in the context of Elettrowave, the electronic side of Italiawave, the biggest free music festival in Italy (a few names have already been announced for the Elettrowave: Jimi Tenor, Alex Gopher, Cassius, Ladytron, Modeselektor, Noze, etc.)

I thought i’d ask Giorgio Olivero from TODO a few questions about BIP. 3 reasons for that: i’m currently spending a few hours in Turin where TODO is based, they did a pretty neat job last year for BIP 2006 the first edition of the event and any event that demonstrates that design/art installations can be successfully shown outside of the traditional exhibition venue is worth more attention. Well, actually there’s a reason number 4: TODO‘s own portfolio shows constant goodness.

0meltinpott.jpg0meltinpooo8.jpgInteractive installations for Meltin’Pot

Some of their past projects: Face2Face2Face, a real-time visual engine that uses the faces of the public as the content and message (video); an interactive system using figures by artist Han Hoogerbrugge for a series of 5 events for a fashion brand world exhibition; Oneword, an SMS interactive system that samples and displays the audience’s feelings and moods during an event (video.)

0are444r.jpgOne of TODO’s latest projects is AreYouHere?, an urban mobile game that aims to explore Venice through the faces of its inhabitants/migrants, aknowledging the fact that while more and more Venetians are leaving the laguna to settle in other towns, bar and hotel owners now come from abroad to cater for the thousands of tourists who arrive to Venice everyday. The work is part of Migration Addicts, one of the collateral events of the 52nd Biennale di Venezia in June.

The interaction and media design collective is also currently teaching 7th/8th grade students graphical programming with Design By Numbers.

TODO sometimes act as designer and some other times collaborate with other organizations as event curators/producers. A few days ago they even founded a non-profit organization to separate the two areas of activity. NADA for culture and non-profit. TODO is for the design business.


As you write on the call for projects page, the audience at the Elettrowave festival might be a bit “unrespectful and challenging”, extreme or drunk. However, a look at TODO’s portfolio shows that such environment might have some stimulating sides. So what are the advantage of showing your art/interaction design work in an electronic music festival?

When we think about the clubbing space, the fundamental materials are not concrete, glass and metal but rather technological ones. Sound, light and images operate a profound transformation on the space, as Arata Isozaki wrote 20 years ago about The Palladium Disco “the technology shower creates new desires”. Our design question is: how can one fulfill the relational and social needs of a space that is used (and needs) to be continuously redefined by technology?
It’s a wonderful challenge for all the interaction designers out there.

In a festival the context and the public expectations are really different from the usual ‘white cube’ exhibition spaces. It’s a multi-modal experience, it’s a playground and a perfect stress test for the robustness of your project!

0awrongplu.jpgWRONG PLUG by Andrea Bellini & Michele Aquila

What really happened during last year’s festival? How did the audience interact with the installations? And how did the works enhance the experience of a night event attended by thousands of clubbers?

It’s really about the experience. Last year we upgraded the concept of the ‘chillout zone’: you don’t go to a festival just to get wasted and dance all-night long. We do love clubbing, pounding techno-music and all the rest of the electronic circus. But the dancefloor alone, in a festival, is not enough: there’s the need for some kind of contrast and balance. So we asked in the call for works for interaction design projects that would enhance the context of the clubbing experience. We selected four projects, Light Tracer (later selected at club transmediale 2007), Electric Moons (which left for Siggraph right after the BIP 2006 festival), Wrong Plug and Mossalibra that would act as a whole to address the need of a functional fracture. If you think about people on a dancefloor as excited molecules, then offer them some focal points to aggregate in less anonimous clusters, provide them with different kind of relations, social dynamics, surprise and unexpected situations.

0mocccc5.jpg0mooobbbj9.jpgMossalibra by Yaniv Steiner & Ofer Luft

What are the characteristics that makes an installation a perfect candidate to be selected at BIP?

Playful, relational, experimental, open to ambient noise and interferences, spectacular and low budget! :)
Take a look at BIP 2006 pictures and video to get an idea of the context.

0lightracccce.jpgLightTracer by Karl D. D. Willis

If i’m not wrong, last year was the first edition of BIP. What have you learnt from the experience that you’d like to repeat this year? Will the 2007 edition of BIP be different from the 2006 one?

We were really excited by the quality of the previous edition submissions, so we decided to keep on with the same concept for a while. There is still a wide space to be explored in the dialog between clubbing and interaction-design.
This year the festival will not happen in Arezzo anymore and will land into Florence. The new BIP location, the Stazione Leopolda is way cooler and we are ready for the new challenge.

We also added TouchDown!, an intensive 3 days workshop headed by Yaniv Steiner and me on DIY game controllers so the idea is to exhibit some of the workshop outcome during the night along with the other projects.

Who should be interested in the workshop? Do participants have to come with particular skills?

We encourage attendance from visitors from multiple backgrounds and all skill levels. Everything will be really fast. We are going to explore game controllers. We’ll hook up the projects to some kind retro videogames. Participants will need to collaborate with each other to get the most out of the little time available. We’ll have a couple of days for technical session, presentations, research, prototyping and documentation. It may be as crazy as it sounds. Then on the third day they will present at the festival and enjoy their projects being abused and destroyed :-)
Oh… by the way, the workshop is free!

Grazie Giorgio!

Deadline to submit project proposals for BIP is May 10th, 2007.
Images from TODO website and flickr sets.

Last goodie! Get an idea of what TouchDown! might be like by checking out the outcome of an intensive week workshop at Interaction Design Venice where Yaniv Steiner taught students how to build their own Wii remote (Wiimote) and design original Wii mini-games.