The Story of Ember
Let's start from the beginning...
Ember came out of a discussion we had about donations. Donations drop-off points are often lifeless boxes. We wondered if there was a way to make the process of donating a more engaging and interactive experience.
We started out by setting parameters for our design. We wanted it to be an immersive audio visual experience. After long discussion we realized there was a naturally occurring phenomenon which achieved the same thing: fire.
As our brainstorm continued, we decided we would create a non-destructive bonfire for people to throw their donations into - a process far more engaging than a metal donation box.
We created our prototype by dividing our piece into chunks. One half would be the tracking of objects in the fire and projecting light onto them to make them look and feel like flames were consuming the objects. The other half would be to create a generative audio program which would recreate the sounds of a bonfire and get louder and more robust as more fuel was added.
Once our software was ready, I set about creating a quick enclosure for Ember to live inside of. This enclosure would need to be ventilated for the projector, as well as holding our depth camera and speaker system securely in place. The aesthetic of the piece was meant to be raw - we wanted the tech powering the system to be apparent at a glance.
Everything was ready, and we set about installing Ember in the gallery we had lined up. We had to be sure the 50 pound box was secured very well, while also taking into consideration the architectural impact of the space on the feeling of a bonfire.
The final gallery exhibition was a great success.
People played with objects we provided to throw into the bonfire as planned. One nice surprise we had is that people also wanted to stand in the fire themselves and be set aflame by Ember. People, especially children, loved to play with the simulated combustion and were constantly attempting to find new ways of interacting with the piece.