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Volatile – gallery. The language of alchemy

Volatile – Interactive Installation

Volatile is a research project exploring interactivity in multimedia in an interactive installation exhibition involving networked computers, data projectors and touch screen interface.

Volatile explores the theme of alchemical transmutation in the context of the language of interactivity. The metaphor of change is enacted by the process of subtle transformation of video image. In the ephemeral perceptual field of the digital interactive domain, elements can shift dynamically, oscillate in form and state, transmute and flicker in meaning. This is the fluid language of interactivity where the user is like the alchemist who affects change on substance.

A timeless quality, memorable, I felt transfixed, alive. Emotionally transformative. Immersive, transformative, visually stunning, fascinating juxtaposition of image. Walls seemed alive, walls bubbling, as alchemical words flashed on the walls interactively transforming the images you felt transformed within— a lasting transformation, images and the experience that stay with me even now.

 Ability to overlay ancient alchemy with modern dangerous goods symbols. Ability to interact with the symbols to transform your whole environment. Touch screen – immediate interaction, compelling interaction. Olfactory senses enhance the experience, added an extra dimension to the experience.”

Jay Garland


Creative challenges:

  • investigate/explore the concerns of the research through practical application
  • extend the conceptual language of interactivity and embed tactile, aural, visual and olfactory data within the users’ experience of the installation
  • utilise visual metaphors of alchemy and transformation to describe the fluid nature of interactive language – drawing on theories of flickering signifiers in semiotics
  • dissolve the space between the user and the work by utilising a touchscreen interface – establishing a sense of  immediacy through tactile point of contact, and by camouflaging the technology in the installation

Vision and roles:

  • concept and realisation of a site-specific installation project
  • media production of original image, video and sound content
  • authoring in Director with Lingo programming
  • technical planning and expertise – set-up of installation using networked devices
  • video and photographic documentation of the project

Results achieved:

  • innovative interaction and interface design
  • technical problem-solving and improvisation to achieve creative goals
  • a rich visuality of material, substance and chemical reaction through original video and sound content
  • an immersive and seamless sensory experience

See the video images and find out how they were created.

Video documentation of the Volatile project.