Matt Richardson

Creative Technologist

Bird on a Wire

Bird on a Wire is an interactive projection designed to occupy storefront windows. People passing by notice the subtle flutter of birds perched on telephone wires. When a viewer calls the phone number displayed, they see and hear the birds flock into motion. After a few seconds, the birds resume their position on the wire, ready for the next caller. The entire installation is comprised of a Processing program, two projectors, a computer, vellum, and a physical telephone pole and wire props. Every element was designed to be customizable and modular for different windows and projectors.

Bird on a Wire is a collaboration with Ben Light, Christie Leece, and Inessah Selditz.

The Brief

We were presented with the task of enlivening a pair of abandoned storefront windows at the corner of Mercer St. and Washington Pl. in Manhattan. We set out to create an arresting visual and interaction that would capture the attention of hurried passers-by. We decided to capitalize on the ubiquity of cell phones to add an aural as well as visual interaction. The duration of the installation was limited, so we worked to create an experience that used the space very carefully, but that could be modified quickly for future settings.

The Purpose

Walking around city streets, we are bombarded with storefronts advertising goods and services. We also pass a large number of empty windows, covered with brown paper or shuttered in with blinds. Instead of hawking wares or disappearing into the urban landscape, what if these spaces engaged, excited and made getting from place to place a little more interesting? We had that goal in mind as we created this project. We didn’t want to steal people away for hours, but rather, give them a minute-long treat and make something magical of an otherwise abandoned window.