Interactive tree

Lit Tree is an interactive light installation that takes a new approach to 3D mapping.

Together, London-based technical designer Elliot Woods, and Seoul-based artist Mimi Son, are known as Kimchi and Chips. The duo’s interactive Lit Tree installation uses a small potted tree as the site for a light display that represents a whole new approach to 3D mapping.

Though an “in-progress prototype”, the Lit Tree uses an existing environment for 3D projection, through non-invasive means. This is achieved through real-time scanning of the projection site.

Visitors to the installation are encouraged to place their hands above a wooden plinth located near a bamboo plant. The visitor’s hand is then scanned in three dimensions, with the resulting 3D shape reflected inside the tree. Next, the visitor can select and highlight the volume of the tree through gestures.

The idea is that these volumetric patterns of light will reflect visitor interaction while drawing attention to the invisible effects of our day-to-day interaction with the environment.The scanning system comprises two webcams on a tripod with the artist’s self-created PC encoding, structured light scanning software, utilising Kimchi and Chip’s ofxPolyfit openFrameworks extension, which allows for the correlation of any two datasets, including those with different dimensions. With Lit Tree, the plant leaves serve as voxels, or 3D pixels, for the are of light projection. This all is achieved with the use of two video projectors.

Together with the immediate, interactive effect of the installation, Woods and Son reckon that since the temperate of the light produced by a video projector bulb can be compared to that of the sun’s surface, the tree might eventually naturally respond to the light that is projected onto it. This then asks the question of whether the natural phototropic behaviour of plants will cause the leaves that are always in the shadow to turn towards the light of the projector.