A mesh of light in the sky above Yamaguchi
Platform type installation designed to establish communication through flashes and movements of huge columns of light converted from short messages sent via the Internet from around the world.
A total of 20 powerful searchlights were installed around the Central Park right in front of the YCAM building, to flash and move around in response to messages sent from cell phones, websites and special terminals set up at 28 art centers around the world. These lights continue to float in the sky, and only disappear when someone accesses a special website to receive and eventually read the respective message. The system can proceed up to ten messages at a time, resulting in multiple rays of light that form a giant, intricately tangled "mesh of light" in the sky above YCAM. Like an immaterial roof, this mesh of light becomes an extension of the YCAM building's exterior appearance modeled after the shape of Yamaguchi's mountains, and around a motif of transmissions of reverberating light and sound.
This work was realized using 140,000 Watt searchlights, directions of which can be individually controlled via a computer. The giant "mesh of light" that emerges as a result in the sky above YCAM can be seen from places as far as 15 kilometers away.
Flashing of searchlights
Incoming messages are encoded at a speed as low - in terms of electronic communication - as two Japanese characters or 4 Roman letters per second, based on which the searchlights begin to flash. At that time, light is emitted also from other searchlights, so that rays of light are crossing in the air. The older messages get, the more the density of light increases at the cross-points.
Participants can use this work to send messages to particular persons as well as to an unspecified number of people. When a message is sent to someone specific, an email reading "a message to you is written in the sky above Yamaguchi" is sent from the work's server to the respective person, along with an invitation to view the message via the website.
Furthermore, as messages are automatically translated from Japanese into English or vice versa, texts may appear slightly different from their intended meanings, and are therefore conveyed in an awkward yet somehow alluring manner. In this respect, the work is charged with a notion of irony toward the breakneck speed of globalization.
The website contains an interface for sending or viewing messages, as well as displays of 3D computer graphics simulating the state of lights flying about in the sky above YCAM, along with footage from video cameras set up at eight locations across Yamaguchi from which YCAM can be seen.
"Access points" as special terminals for accessing this work were installed at 28 art/media centers and museums in 15 countries around the world. The work inspired new partnerships between centers specializing in art, science and media technology.
- Programming & Development: Conroy Badger, Motoi Ishibashi, Jennifer Laughlin, Emilio López-Galiacho, Chong Zhang
Production support: Will Bauer, Jack Calmes, Olaf Pöttcher, Hiroshi Kanechiku