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Monuments + Bits, Toronto
October 20th, 2009

Location: Eric Arthur Gallery, Toronto; CMKY Gallery, Ann Arbor
Principals in Charge: Rodolphe el-Khoury and Robert Levit
Design: Rodolphe el-Khoury and Robert Levit with James Dixon, Mike Fung, and Renée Leung

The exhibition Monument + Bits,” featured a number of uniquely developed technologies and originally authored software to create a new modes of of exhibiting architecture. Illuminated displays sensitive to touch triggered themed projections of architectural work. The exhibition explored “augmented reality” techniques: physical models, which visitors were invited to pick up and handle, were tracked by cameras enabling the mobile projection of information onto these same models. The apparatus for holding the physical elements of the technology –webcams, LCD projects, and LED lighting systems were integrated into a parametrically designed physical environment. Shaped nets, hanging in the form of vaults were used to position projects and cameras.

Monuments + Bits is an exhibition of recent work by design firm Khoury Levit Fong. It combines parametric modeling and fabrication techniques with emerging responsive media to present architecture and urban design projects in an interactive and digitally augmented environment.

The exhibition dramatizes the event of collective monuments and their tense relationship to the immediacy of individual experience. Conventions are recast through new parametric capacities in the production of architectural form, while current developments in interactive media refashion perceptions of the fixity of the built environment.

The design takes advantage of the different characters of the Eric Arthur Gallery’s two main spaces to explore contrasting strategies for the integration of digital interactive technology and imagery into physical environments: while electronic and AV equipment is prominently displayed as part of a space-defining superstructure in one room (room A), it is seamlessly embedded in the other (room B).

The exhibition is innovative in two significant ways:
1-It utilizes parametric modeling/fabrication techniques to facilitate the adaptation of the exhibition and its installation in different spaces.
2-The exhibition has responsive and interactive features that enhance the communication of the material and adapt the mode of presentation to better suit a variety of viewing conditions. For instance, video tracking enables the projection of context-specific content in variable scenarios:
When only one visitor is in the room the projected image relates to the model that is closest to the visitor.
When two visitors are in the room and looking at different models the projected images alternate between the two.
When three or more visitors are in the room the projected content is randomized.
The exhibition demonstrates how emergent digital technology can be functionally and formally integrated into architectural projects.
Other interactive features include:
- Augmented Reality display — 3-D printed massing models are augmented with animated images. The models are tagged with infra-red reflectors that enables the system to identify them and lock on to them with a projection of precisely directed and dimensioned images and caption.
-Responsive displays– computer vision tracks the gestures of visitors allowing them to select images with a light touch for enlargement by means of digital projection