The two week intensive workshop focused on creating an interactive installation in collaboration with the subway lines in my city. A team of 7 students worked with Japanese artist Rita Sato who mainly works with inflatable structures.
Our team got assigned with a subway station that had big indoor spaces as well as fun outdoor spaces in the middle of a busy market. Drawing from this busy nature, we decided that we wanted our installation to contrast the environment and instil a feeling of calm and relaxation. After a few days of ideation, Risa decided to go with my proposal, which took an abstract form of a cloud since it portrayed both stillness and motion.
The next 10 days focused on handiwork and brining life to our ideas. We managed to do this successfully and were all very happy with the way it worked and the response we got from our audience.
Since Risa had worked with inflatable structures before, we followed her process, even though she did say that this would be much bigger in scale than her previous work.
The process started with making a scale model of the final form in thermocol/styrofoam and using that to map out geometric shapes which we would later use almost like pieces of a puzzle to form the life size installation.
We then layered the model with nondrying clay and paper mache on top to be able to label the smaller pieces and cut them in a uniform way.
Once we cut all the pieces, we scanned them to get the exact shapes and placed them back on the model so we could use the labels for reference later. We used the scans to print out the shapes on large sheets of paper, pinned the paper on the parachute fabric that we were using to cut the fabric into the right shape and labeled the fabric as well. We then sent out the fabric to be stitched because of the time restraint we had and got our final form back the next morning. Now all we had to do was add a zipper to allow people to go in and out of the installation and add constant air supply so that it would stay inflated.
And viola! We were done with the building and just had to get the to main part now - user testing.
For the outdoor part of the installation, we chose the most vibrant part of the station, the one with graffiti on two sides and a busy market on the other two. However, we only kept it out for a day because of the fast winds that were predicted for the rest of the week.
We then moved it inside the station where we got most of our feedback. Most of the people interacting actually spent time inside and understood the concept we were going for. They came in to relax after a long days work.