In 2013 The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. Target, the lead sponsor, wanted to create an interactive installation piece in the Sculpture Garden that invited the audience to affect Target Lights (the largest LED display in the Midwest) from the Sculpture Garden, about a mile away.
Our challenge was to create a piece that was inviting, whimsical and technologically intriguing. We wanted the experience to be open for audience members of all ages, for it to be inclusive and to resonate with the Midwest. It hopefully brought attention to both the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Target Lights, which has evolved into a space to showcase digital motion work to the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The team understood that the experience should be accessible for visitors to the sculpture garden of all ages. Despite it’s technical complexity, it should be quickly understood and interacted with. This project could be replicated again in various environments, locations, and could be tailored to the audience and season. Since it’s function was as an artful experience, it’s context was to increase awareness of both the Sculpture Garden and Target Thursday Lights.
Target Thursday Lights delivered on it’s intention of increasing audience engagement and awareness. It garnered both local and national news stories which raised the profile of the 25th anniversary of the Sculpture Garden and Target Thursday Lights. The project had a low barrier of entry which allowed participation from everyone including art and tech novices.
We knew that we wanted a piece that was reactive to motion and we knew that we wanted the audience to be able to control the light show in real time. It began as more of a stage/screen that could be interacted with, but soon we realized that it needed to both inviting for participants with little pressure to “perform.”
The idea grew from the summer past-time of collecting fireflies in jars, which is a nostalgic experience for many who live in the midwest.
The piece needed to be intuitive, drawing on human instinct, with little to no instructions (mason jars with LED “fireflies”), it encouraged interaction and participation. With simple proximity and touch sensors, it reacted to the audience’s natural curiosity and desire to get closer and touch.