Pedestrian (2002) is a public artwork that projects its imagery directly down onto a city sidewalk or concrete floor. Its digital projection merges with the rough surfaces we walk upon—the tiny denizens we see down there wander through a trompe l’oeil illusion in a city that seems to float both upon and within that surface. The plazas and walkways are texturedmapped with samples of concrete, granite, asphalt, and gravel; when projected onto the granular surface of the sidewalk, these virtual textures merge with the physical concrete, creating a second order of detail.
The artwork runs in a seamless 13-minute loop. It does not tell a single story, but rather suggests multiple narratives and possibilities.This often leads its audience to guess at possible storylines, and even to discussions between strangers about its meaning.
The virtual camera in Pedestrian hovers above its scenes throughout. But while the bird’s eye perspective usually implies an omniscient God’s eye view, here that power is compromised. The view is often partially blocked, if not by architectural elements within the scene then by the unforgiving frame delimiting it.
This can put the viewer in mind of the surveillance now blanketing most of our cities. Picture the agents poring over the video streaming in from surveillance cameras mounted on buildings and lampposts, and you can imagine them puzzling over similarly equivocal scenes.
Originally conceived in homage to New York City (an intention that intensified in the immediate aftermath of 9/11), Pedestrian was first presented at four locations in New York City (two outdoors, one underground, one in a gallery). It has proved adaptable to other settings, having toured almost continuously since then—projected on medieval cobblestone in England and Belgium, on the glistening floor of a bus station in Seoul, inside a vacant storefront in Boston, and in many other settings.
Sound design: Terry Pender; Additional animation: Keith Chamberlain; Installation Architect: Marco Steinberg;
Co-producers: Art Production Fund and Eyebeam; Motion capture was overseen by Lisa Naugle of UC Irvine’s Dance Department. Michael Girard and Susan Amkraut provided software support. Connecting Point Multi Media gave technical support. Additional support came from Dancing in the Streets, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the University of California: Irvine, School of the Arts, Department of Dance, with funds from the UCI Chancellors Distinguished Fellow Grant.