Aarhus by Light was a two-month social experiment with an interactive media facade at the Concert Hall in Aarhus, Denmark. Small, luminous creatures appeared to live in the facade. When you approached the concert hall, you entered their world, which was also a part of the city. They were social beings, always (or mostly) happy to see you. There were three illuminated zones on the central path leading visitors toward the concert hall, each covered with brightly-colored carpets. In these zones, camera tracking translated the visitors’ presence and movements into digital silhouettes on the facade, and through the silhouettes, visitors could caress, push, lift, and move the small creatures. The creatures would wave back, fight, sleep, climb, jump, kiss, and occasionally leave and come back, thereby establishing a relation with the visitors that not only visualized movements, but was also emotionally engaging, creating brief narratives.
The rectangular LED panels matched the glass facade modules of the Concert Hall, and were configured as a 50×6 meter, irregular, elongated shape, mainly positioned across the main facade, facing the park. The configuration of the LED panels was deliberately designed to break with a rectangular, TV-screen look, and a smaller section wrapped around the facade’s corner.
In contrast to billboards, Aarhus by Light was not driven by commercial interests. Rather, it was an alternative staging of the encounter between the citizens of Aarhus and a cultural landmark. It blended architecture, ornament, and interactive entertainment. People experienced the facade in a multitude of situations. They might be headed for the Concert Hall or passing by, on their way to shop. Some only cast a quick glance at this and hurried on, while others were drawn to explore the facade’s interactive potential.