Challenging constraints, “don’t play with fire” was the motive for this provoking experience, assuming both wild and innocent sides, rebellion and protectionism
Play with Fire triggers controversial feelings by combining the “wonder and danger” of a forest on fire, effecting attitude change towards environmental protection.
Play with Fire was designed as a digital art experience that happens over three different stages: a mashup of forest fire news, followed by the participants playful interaction with fire on the forest projection through a gestural interface, and a reflective part where Play with Fire connects to its audience mobile phones granting access to a user specific web application depicting the forest they burnt, regenerating in real-time. Depending on the user’s performance, the forest will take from some months to years to revolve to its original state.
Living in Portugal, a place that has been extremely exposed to forest fires, makes us very sensitive to the destruction of forest patrimony by fire hazards, which also applies to a world scale. As researchers exploring arts practices, we can play a role as promoters of change in people's behavior regarding forests protection. Can digital art foster awareness and respect for nature?
As a step in answering this question, we seek to pose a constructive approach to the destructive dynamics of fire that aggravate climate change.
This research is part of the ongoing activity of ARTiVIS, an online platform for open sharing of real-time video streams of forests. In order to test, use and progress the ARTiVIS platform, we created a series of interactive experiences that make use of the platform, as digital contexts of aesthetic contemplation of nature. Play with Fire as one of the interactive experiences, is making use of the tension created by the installation itself, to foster control over danger and functional monitoring for forest protection in a surveillance system.
Demonstration and tests, Maçal do Chão, Guarda, Apr 6-7, 2012