By Andrew Liszewski
The Funky Forest was created by Theodore Watson and Emily Gobeille and premiered at the 2007 Cinekid festival in the Netherlands. The installation is composed of a room filled with projectors and assorted sensors that lets kids interact with a virtual ecosystem. The kids first create trees on the walls around the room using their bodies, but in order for the trees to grow and flourish, they also have to get water from a nearby waterfall. This is done by temporarily diverting or ‘splashing’ water from a stream using body motions, or by positioning cushions and other objects on the floor to permanently change its flow. As the trees grow larger and become healthier, the forest then attracts other virtual inhabitants.
On one hand, interactive exhibits like this are great because they let artists and designers get very creative with technology and how we use it. On the other hand, it kind of sucks because when you see something particularly cool like the Funky Forest, you realize you’ll probably never be able to buy one for your own home.