The Harbour Watchman

Artist:
Digital Light and Sound: Fergal Hanley (Australia) 

The Harbour Watchman is a giant skull, gazing vigilantly out over the harbour from above a three-metre high pillar, its light glimmering on the crowd below.

The Watchman is a ‘hologram’ made from flowing energy particles, created through a 3D inverted pyramid effect known (appropriately) as ‘Pepper's Ghost’.

The skull animation is brought to life through 70,000 individually rendered particles flowing over the entire skull and controlled by ‘Vizmap’ custom software, developed by the artist.  This directs changes to the colour, shape and size of the particles as they move along its pathways.

The Harbour Watchman is responsive to both sound and touch. Inside the pillar are four microphones, speakers, a projector and a main computer.

The sounds of the passing crowd are picked up by the microphones and analysed by the animation software, causing instantaneous changes in the appearance of the skull. As it shimmers and changes colour, viewers literally see sound waves rolling over the skull.

The public can also interact directly with the installation by pushing one of four buttons on each side of the pillar to activate different effects; they can spin the skull around, change the shape and size of the particles that delineate its form or apply a texture.

The Watchman also has a voice and despite his spectral appearance responds to interaction with vocalisations that express his own deeply held emotions.

Country represented by installation: Australia