It’s showing its age a bit, but an experiential media installation in Taipei is easily one of the best digital signage projects I’ve seen … anywhere.
IAdea’s John Wang ran me over from his office in a tech-heavy office park to a big office tower complex that is home to the financial services firm China Trust. It’s a new build area, near the exhibition center, and the lobby has a stunning, data-driven LED artwork first put in five years ago.
Commissioned by the bank, the installation was originally a long-term but temporary exhibit called Circulum Formosa – Being Here. “Architecturally, the piece aims to augment the cavernous bank lobby; infusing it with natural elements, filling the enormous chamber with natural features, all while maintaining a sense of openness and space. The custom designed screens, soften the lobby’s angularity with light and simulated nature, and echo the vertical and horizontal lines of the space design.”
“To bring its vision to life DEM entrusted the Japanese art collective teamLab with the art and programming. Thematically features animals and sounds native to Taiwan, and incorporates the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals into its midst. The animals frolic on screens before you, responding to each visitor’s presence by warily moving towards the guest. Each month the animals change their location, and the installation evolves seasonally.”
“Visitors trigger thunderstorms, bring rainbows to glowing life, watch a sunrise or a sunset, gaze at nocturnal sky filled with stars, or skip from lily pod to lily pod over a coy pond. The interaction, realism, and variety are unparalleled, making each visitor’s experience, and indeed each visit, unique and magical. Guests can wonder at a massive digital waterfall, or get lost in the forest of light and reflections behind it, while listening to the delicate seasonal soundtracks composed exclusively for the installation.”
“To create this truly unique artwork, and to make its digital existence mimic life as closely as possible, an environment was conceptualized in which widely varied sources of data would create a sense of the organized randomness that is nature. Harnessing the complex interaction of sources from Big Data, pre-programed algorithms, and visitor input, an ever-evolving installation was created. The bank’s own moment-to-moment achievements, and visitors’ real time actions and presence, create a symbiosis, and this symbiotic relationship encapsulates the very existence of the institution.”
Even in daylight, this is QUITE a beautiful project, though Wang says some of the elements have changed or don’t quite work as well as when it first went in. Not all the interactive floor stuff is working and the LEDs – guessing 4 or maybe 6mm pitch – is showing its age in terms of years of public abuse. There is a security guard doing nothing but controlling the kids and adults who get a little too, rambunctious.
Not all the lighting stuff on the ceiling seems to be working either, and unrelated, what appears to be a 55-inch digital directory kiosk was dead or off a few feet away at an entry door. It looks like one of those cases where BIG money – Wang thinks $10 million – went into this originally, but not much after.
That said, even looking a little scruffy, it is still among the most visually compelling things I have seen in a lobby, and the guys were doing data-driven visuals years before it became “a thing.”
A must see if you get to Taiwan. The subway goes right out there.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.