Public Space Magic

The 5th Delai Sam had great workshops about creative interaction and public space: Brad Downey taught us how to spontaneously reconfigure everyday objects into public sculptures that convey humor, irony and a sense of play in the city. Artur Van Balen showed us how to make inflatable sculptures, which transform protests into more interactive, playful situations. And finally, Jason Eppink from New York City taught participants how to make simple solar-powered light projectors. The idea was for anyone to create and spread their own visuals or messages, without  vandalizing physical infrastructure and without requiring permission.

Eppink's interventions, in short, try to make the city more livable, interactive and interesting. More comfortable, fun and more for people. He is famous for his initiatives like Take a Seat in which he placed chairs into a New York Subway station to make it more comfortable; and Astoria River Scum Bridge in which he built a mini pedestrian bridge over leaky sewage pipe. This small act of repair ultimately forced authorities to fix a problem that had been plaguing residents for 23 years.

Although his projects have resulted in social changes (and can could be considered part of tactical urbanism for being strategic), his work is more about creating unexpected urban interaction, and sometimes just 'pranking.' This workshop was not only about reclaiming individual freedom of expression in public spaces, but also reversed a long over-used advertising tactic for more activist goals. And resulted in beautiful light and color projections for people to unexpectedly encounter, and consider.



The idea grew out of what people were doing with video projectors in public space about 5 years ago, before that mostly became advertising. It also came out of a workshop I did in Ekaterinburg a few years ago. One guy did something super simple a few years ago and posted an Instructable about it, but it was pretty dim and limited. I've just wanted to project images in public space for a while, and it's only recently become feasible. The technology is now good enough and cheap enough.


Using pieces of PVC pipe, Solar Powered Lights (bought in the US), transparency paper and markers, workshop participants spent 2 hours assembling and then designing an image or text to project (though potentially, you could design and print directly onto the plastic rather than drawing).

Some people came to the workshop with a plan: to use their DIY projector as an intervention against construction at an old square in the city which was causing many trees to be removed. They made a drawing of three trees and wrote 'Save Us'. The projector was installed at night and would automatically turn on in the evenings, projecting the trees and text onto the asphalt path as people walked through the square.

The workshop was special not only because it was a new tactic for creative urban activists, but also because it was new for Jason and was something he'd wanted to experiment with for a while. It made the process more interesting and participatory, and it was so rewarding to see the projectors work.




More Awesome Street Projects


A project which turns "ugly, blinding video billboard ads into art."


The Total Crisis Panic Button Initiative

An initiative in which new signs replaced Los Angeles crosswalk instruction signs with more "relevant and useful instructional graphics". Anyone could download and add the sign.


Say Something Nice with Improv Everywhere


More pranks and instructions: