Word Play, is based on the Text Rain installation, made by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv in 1999. This version, commissioned by RNL Design for the City of Fontana, California, includes a dynamic LED background wall that displays children’s drawings made at the library. The LED wall and parallel projection wall are located on opposite sides of the entry to the children’s section of the library – creating a distinct and colorful visual marker for this area of the library.
On the projection wall, the falling letters are words that the children use to describe their drawings. As viewers interact with the text from the children’s descriptions, corresponding drawings appear behind them on the LED wall. The black and white camera sees the colored light from the LED wall as white, so the images do not appear in the background of the projection.
For this commission, Utterback responded to the librarians’ and the architects’ desire to create a piece that the community could take part in by making Text Rain into an open-ended platform to incorporate Fontana children’s artwork, and descriptions of these drawings. Utterback created a custom web-based content management system to allow the librarians to upload and organize drawings, create thematic groupings, and update the installation with a currently running group of drawings and text. Librarians can organize drawing sessions with children, then upload the drawings to a database and tag each drawing with the children’s descriptions. Since drawings or sets of drawings can be saved and added to over the years, eventually the piece will become an archive representing different generations of children who have visited the library.
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