November 02, 2015

SIAT students engage Surrey community with innovative project


SFU’s School Interactive Art and Technology (SIAT) students are using their skills to engage our community. Yang Zhang and Linyan Jiang recently won the Place Making Project category in this year’s SFU Surrey-Central City Student Engagement Competition with their project Flow.

Yang and Linyan noticed that the civic plaza, near Surrey Central, was meant to be a welcoming place but that only a few people were entering the space each day. They set out with a mission to transform the plaza into a lively and vibrant space. Flow is their solution to creating a more immersive, interactive, and engaging experience for the public.

“With motion capture as an input and video projection as an output Flow allows people to interact in different ways” says Yang. When members of the community pass the plaza they will see a giant wobbling bubble projected on the ground. As someone enters the space a smaller bubble will be generated around the person. This person will be able to slice the large bubble into smaller ones by walking around the plaza. If two participants walk close together their two bubbles will merge and change to a new color. The imagery is intended to get participants thinking about how they live in their own little bubble and how we can break out of those bubbles to positively interact with those around us.

Yang and Linyan are hoping that Flow can act as the cornerstone for future SIAT video projection projects. The project is open source, meaning that anyone can contribute. They invite creative technologists from the school and community to engage with the project and share their ideas. Yang and Linyan want to focus on showing large outdoor video projection projects that engage the community and bring delightful experiences to the public. Examples of possible projects could involve games, storytelling, and news announcements.

Flow will act as a piece of public art that challenges our thinking and builds community. This project will increase the traffic flow of the plaza and help transform the space into an unofficial place of gathering. The plaza will become a space for creativity and engagement.

The SFU Surrey-Central City Student Community Engagement Competition was established by Blackwood Partners, the City of Surrey and Simon Fraser University to recognize, celebrate, and champion community-student engagement and spirit. The awards also aim to facilitate student participation in experiential learning opportunities through community service and attract students from a variety of disciplines who are enthusiastic about socio-economic entrepreneurship, innovation and community building. This interactive piece developed by students in SIAT offers a social gathering opportunity for the Surrey community that achieves all of the competitions objectives.