Caitlin Pickall is an artist and developer who uses custom software and electronics to create immersive audiovisual environments and experiences.
Lightstream 108 is a sculpture that streams messages using the binary encoding for each character, with a one displayed as an illuminated bar, and a zero displayed as a darkened one. Created for Residency 108 in upstate New York, the sculpture consists of 18 light posts (10 + 8 for 108), and was installed along the edge of a seasonal spring marsh. On the first night of the installation, the sculpture turned on at sunset and streamed a mantra 108 times as a dedication to the property. Thereafter, it turned on at sunset and streamed a short descriptive text, a prose poem about the landscape where it is located. The embedded pattern of the binary encoding gives rise to a choreography of light in a process that transforms the message, making it accessible not cognitively, but via the senses. It's turning a symbolic meaning into something phenomenological and integrating it into the physical world.
Spring Table is a multimedia installation that invites viewers to gather around a table, which serves as a projection surface. When people sit down at the table, they activate different sounds and images, which combine to create the 'dining' experience.
Spring Table was created during an artist residency at Laboratory in Spokane, WA.
Threshold is a responsive installation space constructed around the concept of ritual activity. Engaging with the domain of installation that addresses the senses and incorporates the bodily presence of the viewer, it creates a space inspired by the idea of liminality, a term that, at its broadest, refers to a state or space of in-between-ness.
The term ‘liminal’ was introduced by Dutch-German-French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in his 1909 work, Les Rites de Passage. He used the term, which is derived from the latin ‘limen’ meaning threshold, to describe the middle stage of rite of passage rituals. The concept of liminality has continued to resonate in the modern era.
Theshold begins with a crossing, in which the viewer’s reflection fades into a field of white light, symbolizing the passage from the outside world into the space of the installation and the effacement of previous identity in rite of passage rituals. Within the main space of the installation, reactive light, sound and video elements create an environment that reflects on the idea of passage and ritual activity while also proposing it directly to the viewer’s senses with chaotic elements that short-circuit contemplation.
Considering liminality as both a state and a physical space, Threshold explores its dual nature, the way in which the unstructured, fragmented, disorienting and distorted can lead to renewal and meaning-generation or verge on chaos, dissolution and anxiety.
“Liminality refers to moments or periods of transition during which the normal limits to thought, self-understanding and behavior are relaxed, opening the way to novelty and imagination, construction and destruction.”
- Bjørn Thomassen, Liminality and the Modern: Living Through the In-Between
Threshold grew out of and expands my investigations into augmented perception, recombination and spatial/exhibition design. I have long been fascinated with the reciprocal relationship between art and the places where it is displayed and encountered. Particularly when these spaces are locations with their own history and architectural narrative, the dialogue between place and artwork is rich and evocative. Art, whose history of preservation and exhibition accords it a sacralized and timeless quality, intersects with physical reality that bears the traces of history and gives testament to the inevitable passing of time to create an experience that is both rooted in time and outside of time.
Binary Light Frame
Aluminum, fiber optic strands, led strips, electronics, custom software
121 cm x 91 cm
Binary Light Frame looks at the representation of language in the digital age. It reads text data, converts it to patterns of ones and zeros and streams those to an array of fiber optic cables that illuminate to display the text as light pulses, drawing attention to the physical embodiment of language in the digital realm and enabling a new perspective on encoding and digital representation by bringing the conversion to binary out of the computer, where it is invisible to users, and into a physical object that can be experienced with the senses.
Ping pong balls, wire, leds, batteries
152 cm x 121 cm
Lumière-sur-Seine is a temporary light sculpture installed in 2014 on the river Seine near Île Saint-Louis in Paris, France. It consists of a 4 'x 5' matrix of LEDs held together by wire in a mesh structure reminiscent of a fishing net. Ping pong balls diffuse the light and provide buoyancy. The structure floats on the river, drifting with the current and following the motion of the water.
Celluloid Memories matched projections of scenes from old movies with the locations where they were shot in Paris.
Realized in collaboration with Karla Durango, Eugena Ossi and Jaime Hamadi.
Glass bottles, motor, custom electronics
62 x 62 cm
Drinks At The Opening Party is an interactive gallery installation that responds to being photographed. When someone takes a picture of it with their phone, a motor mounted beneath the plinth is activated, first toppling and then breaking the bottles on top.
The piece asks at what point does technology stop heightening experiences and begin detracting from them? When it is so easy to use technology to capture lived experience, the distinction between experience and memento becomes blurred. When viewers interact with this piece, they inadvertently begin destroying it.
Realized in collaboration with Eugena Ossi and Nadine Daouk.
Digital Stained Glass
Interactive installation proposal
Proposal for an interactive, architectural-scale installation at the Time Warner Center in New York City. Digital Stained Glass allows visitors to the space to throw colors to switchable window tinting overlays thereby controlling the lighting, color and mood of the space.
My team conducted site visits, observing and documenting user behavior in the space. We created aesthetic, experiential and technical prototypes to test different elements of the proposed project. We did whiteboard mockups to quickly work through interface ideas, settling on a sling-shot interaction that allows users to select a color and ‘throw’ it up to the windows. Our technical prototype used Spacebrew to create a many-to-one interaction that allowed multiple devices to connect to the space, which we prototyped as a dynamic image using Processing.
Realized in collaboration with Rosalind Paradis and Joy Peng.
Analysis, Design & Prototype
Tasked with incorporating an online resource of materials related to art projects and the production process at a contemporary arts space in Paris into the visitor experience, our team proposed an interactive café that would allow visitors to get more information about the pieces that interested them and explore the archive via an interactive platform that combined individual stations and a shared video wall. We analyzed user experience flow, created an interface and prototyped interactive elements using Processing.
User flow diagram.
Interface ambient state prototype.
Realized in collaboration with Aine Zhou and Myesha Gardner.
Analysis, Design & Prototype
Théo is a chatbot designed to give information about a contemporary arts space in Paris. We built the chatbot using Pandorabots and deployed it using node.js and Heroku. As additional research for this project, we wrote code that would integrate the chatbot with an RFID tracking system that the museum is developing.
Realized in collaboration with Aine Zhou and Myesha Gardner.
Making Hits is a data visualization of the 200 top-grossing films of all time at the domestic box office grouped by studio. The data comes from Box Office Mojo and is adjusted to the 2015 average ticket price of $8.12 (calculated by the National Association of Theatre Owners). The visualization shows the relative size of the top grosses and allows viewers to access information about the individual films. It uses a radial layout to display a large number of films onscreen at once. Built using D3.js
Treemap is a map of the city of Paris created by plotting all of the city’s trees. It is a visualization of data available on opendata.paris.fr. Created in Processing.
Je ne veux pas
Laser Cut Rose Petals
Je ne veux pas... is a series of laser-cut rose petals reading "je ne veux pas faire le ménage," which translates as "I don't want to do the chores/cleaning up." It's a humorous nod to the difference between romantic love and settled cohabitation, as well as a visual pun regarding the practice of giving gifts to seek forgiveness (I don't want to clean up this mess), and a mini-meditation on the ideal of beauty.
2015 Pulse sensor, vibration motor, Arduino, leds, wood
20 x 20 x 16 cm
HeartSync is a device that allows two people to feel each other's heartbeats. Each person wears a pulse sensor that captures their heartbeat and a wristband containing a vibration motor that transmits their partner's heartbeat, so that they can feel it 'beating' against their wrist. If the two heartbeats come into sync, the box in the center lights up.
Copper, plexiglass, wood, sensors, arduino, chime
19 x 19 x 7 cm
The Meditation Clock is a button-less object designed using unconventional interactions. Using a distance sensor, capacitive touch and accelerometer data, the clock's different features are activated by touching, moving the hand toward and away from the clock and by rotating. An analog chime controlled by a servo motor sounds when the meditation time set by the user has elapsed.
Wood, water, salt, peristaltic pump, Raspberry Pi, custom software
19 x 19 x 30 cm
Prototype for a sculpture,Dronestream, which connects to the Dronestream API, a resource developed by Josh Begley. The Dronestream API publishes data on covert United States drone strikes collected by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. A Node.js script running on a Raspberry Pi queries the API every hour. When the API returns a strike, the script triggers a pump via one of the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins. The pump releases a drop of liquid for each casualty reported, and the drops fall into a bowl of salt positioned beneath the pump.
Custom software, laser cut wood
72 x 30 cm
In Source a digital image becomes a physical object, which becomes a digital image. Starting with a digital image of the 1856 oil on canvas painting The Source by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (located in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris), I wrote a program to convert the image into a halftone template, cut it into wood using a laser cutter, and photographed it in front of a window, creating a new digital image of The Source.
20 x 6 x 6 cm
Working with wallpaper patterns from the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, I isolated elements of the patterns, extruded them in AutoCAD and printed them on the 3D printer.