polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Featured Artist: LAB at Rockwell Group

by Ali Madad

Plug-in-Play, an installation for the 2010 01SJ Biennial, encourages passersby in downtown San Jose to participate in a shared urban video-game experience. Created by the LAB at Rockwell Group, the project fulfills the LAB's ambition to "explore, experiment, and embed interactive experiences augmented with digital technology in objects, environments, and stories." The Plug-in-Play site includes the following description:
Plug-in-Play represents a playground of ideas related to how we engage our urban environments. By connecting a number of objects (some existing and some staged) in San Jose City Hall Plaza to the building facade via oversized theatrical plugs, we suggest a new type of environment wherein social interactions, citizenship, and personal activities are more dynamically reflected. As visitors interact with objects on the plaza or connect to the installation via social networks, this physical and virtual activity is registered through the projection of an abstracted urban landscape on the facade of City Hall. The resulting effect constitutes an attempt to create a more accurate representation of the vitality and complexity of our urban environments.
For the 2008 11th Annual Venice Architecture Biennale, the LAB created an installation called Hall of Fragments, which "disengages visitors from the bricks and mortar of Venice and connects them to the alternative world of 'Architecture Beyond Building' through an immersive and interactive environment constructed from iconic films."