Assemblance (2014)

Assemblance is a collaborative immersive environment filled with three-dimensional interactive light-structures sculpted by people's gestures and movements.

A challenge in today’s dynamic urban environments is to develop interfaces that enable collaborative design, building and reconfiguration of space on the fly through responsive technologies. In Assemblance, a fully immersive interactive augmented reality environment made ‘real’ by using light as a physical material, the aim is to structure participation and build trust between people who must sometimes suspend disbelief in order to cooperate and co-exist.

Assemblance, one of Umbrellium's touring projects, uses computer-controlled lasers to generate three-dimensional forms in air that are manipulated by people with their hands, feet, and bodies. An intensely collaborative experience, people interact with each others' forms and spaces through sweeping gestures and gentle movements that leave walls of light behind and around them, building complex structures, or destroying them if they’re not careful. Structures are more stable and resilient when built together, and help uncover hidden 'easter eggs' in the space.

Drawing on the architecture and design of networked urban infrastructure, Assemblance uses light to construct a semblance of physicality in which people that don't know each other gain enough trust to collaborate on building delicate, ephemeral, luminescent structures, where intimate and hyperlocal participation becomes even more important, and the question of our responsibility and culpability towards each other is thrown up in challenging ways.

In the nineteenth century, people were perplexed about the distinction between ‘mind’ and ‘body’, which now seems quaint. Assemblance, an experiment in structuring participation, asks us to consider whether we might, in the twenty-first century, be making similarly arbitrary distinctions in separating ‘physical’ from ‘virtual’; ‘real’ from ‘imagined’; and ‘mine’ from ‘yours’.

Assemblance lasers kindly sponsored by Kvant Laser Systems and Pangolin Laser Systems.

Assemblance exhibitions and publications:

Assemblance in the press: