A responsive urban comfort object.
Illumination controlled by motion
Illumination controlled by motion
For the DLECTRICITY nighttime, outdoor contemporary art festival, rootoftwo + DAUB (Karl Daubmann) created menotme to inspire new types of social behavior, interaction, and play. Participation was essential. The more you interacted with it, the more it performed. Organic in form and feel, menotme created a comfy place to dawdle during the festival, where informal social exchanges and a good cuddle with the work were encouraged. We were interested in transforming the urban environment to increase socialization and pleasure. We did not fully anticipate the urge for twenty or more people to throw themselves at it simultaneously.
There were nine tubes full of beach balls stacked on top of each other and buckled together with white nylon webbing straps. The cylinder was anchored into the ground with many heavy-duty tent stakes. Each tube had a set of electronics intertwined between the beach balls. The electronics consisted of eight custom-built ‘pucks’ of LEDs with shift registers sandwiched between layers of laser-cut Acrylic. These were connected by wires to an Arduino microcontroller and a 3-axis accelerometer module. Motion (change in gravitational force) detected by the accelerometer module was translated into color and light that cascaded along the chain of ‘pucks’ as data stored in the system shifted from one LED to the next. Movement of the cylinder caused the entire structure to be illuminated orange-red from inside the tubes, and the beach balls to glow. It was possible to create a ‘vortex-effect’ of light shifting around the cylinder by rocking the structure back and forth from either side.
We conceived of menotme as a haptic street toy to provoke public affection. Part of the rationale for DLECTRICITY was to get people out after dark in Midtown Detroit. We designed menotme as a luminous and dynamic form able to inspire new types of social behavior. menotme is an urban comfort object (an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations). Teddy bears or blankets often take the place of the mother‑child bond when a child separates “me” from “not‑me.” The comfort object is often the first “not me” artifact that really belongs to a child.
DLECTRICITY in 2012 was the first time this light-based art + technology festival happened in the City of Detroit. On October 5-6, 2012, the historic architecture of Midtown became the canvas for 35 projects from local, national, and international artists. DLECTRICITY was inspired by Detroit’s very own Electric Park, formerly located on the site of what is now Gabriel Richard Park. From 1906 until 1928, Electric Park was a major attraction, beginning as a trolley park and later expanding into an amusement park. In 2012, DLECTRICITY happened the same weekend as the Nuit Blanche festivals in New York and Paris. There have been subsequent DLECTRICITY festivals in 2014, 2017, and 2021. Cézanne Charles and John Marshall (rootoftwo) were members of the 2021 DLECTRICITY Curatorial Committee.
Location: Horace H. Rackham Education Memorial Building at the Woodward & Warren Corner, Detroit, MI, USA
Client: Midtown Detroit Inc.
Design: Summer 2012
Completed: Fall 2012
Cézanne Charles (rootoftwo)
John Marshall (rootoftwo)
Karl Daubmann (DAUB)
Assisted by: Alexander Watanabe, Ben Hagenhofer-Daniell, Yun Tae Kim
Dimensions: 12’ (L) x 12’ (W) x 12’ (H)
Media: Vinyl beachballs, laundry-bag mesh, power mesh, lumber, Nylon webbing, buckles, Arduino microcontrollers, LEDs, sensors, fiberglass rods, Acrylic.