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The Portal Interactive Art Installation

The Portal is a unique interactive multisensory installation conceived and actualized by Dickinson Prentiss of Dreamlab. The artwork was first displayed at the Siggraph 99 Exhibition at the Los Angeles Convention Center where over 42,000 participants shared in the interactive group experience.

The Portal installation provides an environment where a gathering of participants simultaneously contribute to the spontaneous creation of a unique sight and soundscape. This is the first known occasion that complete control of anamorphic laser technology, digital voicing and spontaneous freedom of expression is placed directly in the hands of a large group of participants.

The exhibit consists of a large tension fabric structure, a matrix of interactive mechanisms and state of the art technology audiovisual equipment. Individuals pull on cords that shapeshift sculpture and simultaneously initiate sound and light changes. By working together, people compose music and sculpt laser worlds in real time. The artwork promotes a sense of community and bonding as the focus shifts beyond mere technology to the higher plane of collective thought. Through this new medium, artists literally sculpt canvas on pigment.

The Portal installation is composed of a large, 28 foot diameter, tension fabric structure, interactive interface mechanisms and peripheral audiovisual elements. Interaction with a matrix of dangling interface cords sculpts the elastic Lycra Spandex material surface into tri-directional laser light pigment paths and simultaneously activates integrated electronic sensors. The signals are then processed by an analog control voltage to MIDI translator device and output concurrently to laser and intelligent lighting systems, initiating dynamic visual content changes, and a digital sound sampler amplified by an audio system, providing the singing voices. Each of the twenty-four interface mechanisms is assigned one distinct musical pitch, over a continuous three octave range, of a digitally sampled human voice and, by working collectively, the participants make the installation sing in chorus.

“STATE OF THE ART …manipulated lasers and music.” – New York Times, J.C. Herz, August 19, 1999.

“A laser show of neon-colored beams circling colorfully through dark spaces, reaching toward a luminous white cloud with what appears to be streams of silver rain. Excited faces from many countries glimmer in the black light. Through the laser rainbow and rolling mists of fog machine haze a group of people laugh and reach up to pull on the silver strings. A choir of sixty midi voices sings in response. People play together, tugging and listening, discovering as a team how the nature and duration of a tug on each string can result in new voices, crescendos, sustained or staccato phrases of sound. The installation was a success. It gathered people together, all leaning into a playful mystery, stretching their bodies in open space to explore with each other, learning how to make a raincloud sing.” – The Unlimited Bandwidth of Human Imagination – Siggraph 99, P. Hedlund, August 1999.

The Portal is available for your special event, concert, trade show, corporate theater, group bonding experience or gallery exhibition.
The Portal Interactive Art Installation

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