WATCH | Interactive art installation offers public platform for dialogue around positive change

  • A 12 meter interactive billboard made up of LED lights was installed on a rooftop in Woodstock on Tuesday.
  • The interactive art piece displays text messages sent by community members.
  • The aim of the project is to facilitate connection and dialogue around positive change during a time of social isolation.

A collaboration of designers and artists from across three studios erected a 12 meter LED billboard on a rooftop in Woodstock, Cape Town, on Tuesday as part of an initiative called "We See Change".

The aim of the project is to offer a platform that connects communities during a time of isolation and at the same time facilitates dialogue around positive change.

People are encouraged to send messages via text, WhatsApp or on the website which are then flashed across the billboard for the community within a 2km stretch to see.

"To get the message from the website, we've got a 3G sim card in here and that's how we get the data," said Marc Nicolson, owner of Thingking Studio, who was in charge of getting the LED billboard up and running. 

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According to Maximillian Melvill, architect and co-owner at The Maak, a design studio focused on social impact architecture, accessibility is something they are "critically" aware of and so if you don't have data or internet connectivity, your messages can be dropped off at certain shops or cafes in the local community.

"By allowing people to make their desires, hopes, dreams, wishes, concerns very visible, we're hoping that this is not adding to the noise but rather acting as a signal, and can ideally act as a peg in the sand that people can rally behind and people can better connect and work together to impart the change they want to see in the world," said Melvill.

The LED public messaging board is active from 5pm and switches off at 8am. Some of the messages seen dashing across the night sky were, "Black Lives Matter", "Let's Pray for our Woodstock" and "Everybody is of value. Be Kind".

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For artist David Brits, this project brings to life the kind of inspiration he felt when first hearing the 8pm applause for frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, where people can express that they care.

"The first time I heard that, the sort of euphoria from the neighbourhood I'm staying in was, obviously it's a signal to thank frontline workers, but more then that it's a form of self expression in a time where that's not common. And to say I'm here and I count," said Brits.


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