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"Stunning," was the typical response when visitors strolled through a recent London exhibit. The object of their admiration was "Volume," a luminous interactive installation that attracted thousands of Londoners to the John Madejski Garden of the V&A Museum in South Kensington from November 2006 to January 2007.
"Volume" was the result of collaboration between London-based lighting designers United Visual Artists and Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack and his co-writer Neil Davidge (as part of their music production company, one point six). The walk-in installation featured an array of light columns that responded spectacularly to human movement, triggering a brilliant display of light and sound.
Visitors curious to know how their motion was being detected probably would have noticed a row of infrared illuminators mounted on a first-floor balcony, but what was really tracking their movement was sitting in the shadows of an alcove above—a JAI/Pulnix TM-1325 CL camera, supplied by JAI's UK distributor Firstsight Vision.
Alastair Slater, Firstsight Vision's Business Development Manager, describes why the camera provided an ideal solution for the "Volume" installation: "The system was designed to work by reflecting near infrared light from the scene to a suitably sensitive camera with sufficient resolution and frame rate. The JAI/Pulnix TM-1325 CL is a 1.45 megapixel camera with enhanced near IR response and a frame rate of 30Hz, so it was more than up to the job."
For the installation, the camera was equipped with a filter to block all ambient illumination. Since the light columns were static, the only variation in light reflection would come from people moving on the scene. The signal from the camera could then be processed to detect the location of movement and trigger the emission of light and sound from each column in relation to the proximity of movement. "Volume" used components from the Common Vision Blox image processing library, for which Firstsight Vision also is the UK supplier.