Unintended Landscapes is an interactive animation about the choice to control natural processes through technology and the unintentional consequences of doing so. The viewer is invited to manipulate audiovisual components in an interactive animation using a wooden cube. Rotating the cube affects changes is the animation. It also has the chance to cause an unintended effect by increasing the blur and posterization of the image and by increasing the volume of city noises. The more the animation is manipulated, the more distorted it becomes.
Each side of the cube is laser-etched with an image that hints at what aspect of the scene it controls. The viewer is able to influence three aspects of the animation: the season, the weather, and whether it is day or night.
I grew up in rural Maryland. I was inspired to make this piece because I have felt cut off from the natural rhythms of the seasons while living in New York City. For me, the year is marked by changes in the landscape and soundscape, such as peepers in the spring, and crickets and cicadas in the late summer and fall. In the city these changes are overshadowed by the intensity and monotony of urban sounds and environmental controls.
With this piece I was thinking about how we use technology to free ourselves from restrictive patterns of nature, such as by using artificial light to escape the burden of as day and night. This control is to our benefit, however, industrialization and urbanization also have significant costs in the form of pollution in our environment and a loss of human familiarity with natural processes.
The controller contains an Arduino and an accelerometer that communicate with the computer via bluetooth. The animation is created in Processing. In the installation the animation is triggered and reset using brass contact points on the bottom of the cube.