We proposed to install street-level ‘viewing pods’ housing monoculars that would, upon viewing, reveal wooden figurines placed in surrounding buildings and businesses. Viewers would need to make slight adjustments to the monoculars’ angle and focus to locate the figurines like in a Where’s Wally picture book.
Although the installation's concept was simple, variables acting as technical challenges were many: adjustable optics, precise lines of sight, pod placement, considerations to ground inclines, durability and health & safety requirements due to the installation's tactility. The most difficult challenge was establishing the twelve viewing angles (lines of sight) during the prototype phase on site.
Difficulty of establishing the twelve precise viewing angles (lines of sight) was overcome by lacing our skeletal prototype structures with nylon mesh along an X, Y grid and obtaining the correct coordinates from simulation. Our simulating monoculars (using 3mm aluminium viewing shafts) were held in place by the nylon mesh for recording. Coordinates representing the viewing angles could then be transferred onto our final installation in our workshop. Importantly, the prototyping and the final installations were achieved all while respecting our budgetary constraint of $5000.
Passersby, when peering into the monoculars, were rendered into curious spectators, viewing their cityscape and its history in a novel telephoto focus. Overall, we were able to deliver an innovative installation that recorded the highest user engagement to date while facilitating a sense of community with the public and local businesses from process to activation.
We chose an untreated, 'bricoler' aesthetic for the installation to reflect the playful and 'tinkering' interactivity of the installation. It was also consistent with the arts-and-craft feel of the wooden figurines.