City nets collaborative art installation

An aerial sculpture that allows visitors to choreograph lighting effects in real time via their mobile devices has been launched in Vancouver, Canada. Named Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, the attraction was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the TED Conference and saw a 23,000 ft sq net sculpture hung between the 24-story Fairmont Waterfront and the Vancouver Convention Center.

The project is a collaboration of artists Janet Echelman of Studio Echelman, and Aaron Koblin, creative director of Google's Data Arts Team.

The programming language Go was used to manage the client connections to the sculpture and run the web server that outputs the visuals to five projectors. What is projected on to the pre-stressed net, which is made of synthetic fibre 15-times stronger than steel, is a full-screen Google Chrome window of more than 10 million pixels in size.

At night, the attraction comes alive with illumination. Visitors with smartphones and tablets have been painting beams of light across the sculpture with small movements on their phones becoming hundred foot longtrails evolving and combining with the inputs of fellow participants.

"It’s really exciting for me as an artist to see the work grow and unfold in ways beyond what I could imagine," said Echelman. "I look forward to finding out what people feel and think, and how it affects them."

With the TED conference now finished for this year, it is thought the installation will now be used in other cities around the world.