Art Installations and Projects

dance floor
Studio_Roosegaarde interactive dance floor


Energy Harvesting & Art (in progress)  Energy harvesting from ambient sources has both practical and artistic appeal.  Ambient sources include human activities such as walking and dancing, physical phenomena such as raindrops falling,  body processes such a blood surging in the veins, and biological processes such as bacteria in the soil and tree sap flowing.    I am drawn to this technology because of its mixture of ecological consciousness and technological imagination.   I am not sure where this leads but I am working on creating an art installation that examines the poetry of these new developments. 

A proposal for an Energy Harvesting as Public Art  installation won selection in the Knowledge Hacking competition sponsored by UC Berkeley Ryder Gallery and 2010 ZeroOne Biennial of art & technology. You can get more information about energy harvesting as public art show.   You can also visit the planning wiki- access to the Research/Design Wiki.


SmartSpace  A media installation of Internet-connected spaces explores concepts of ubiquitous computing and intelligent spaces.  Using long-range RFID technologies, these spaces know the identity of the persons who enter and project customized animated collages of images from history, art, fiction etc. on topics that people have indicated are important to them.  The images have been collected via automated programs that search online image archives.  SFSU Art Gallery,2008

IntroSpection.  The installation enables  people to interact with microorganisms and cells derived from their own body in a non-invasive way. The contradiction of interacting with these alien, unfamiliar life forms (which are nonetheless intimately connected with our bodies) focuses on the boundaries between self and non-self and the cultural interest in bioidentification.  Animal Nature Show, Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon U, 2005;  (Excerpts in Digital Body Show, ICA, London, 2006). Revised 2006-8

Body Surfing. Cultural theorists claim that in our electronically mediated era the physical body is increasingly irrelevant.  "Body Surfing" uses state of the art body sensing technology to ironically question this claim by allowing visitors to investigate the limitations and pleasures of the body through drumming, stretching, dancing, and running.     SFSU Art Gallery,2000.  Revised version 2006

Traces of Culture Like the library at Alexandria, Egypt, the World Wide Web attempts to collect all the knowledge of the world.  By unleashing custom crafted real-time searchbots to rummage its images, Traces of Culture presents a series of interactive art events that ask visitors to reflect on this compendium and the process of search.  SFSU Faculty Show, 2004; ACM Multimedia Interactive Art Show, Columbia University Macy Gallery, 2004;  FILE  2005 show, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Protozoa Games.  Reflecting on animal experimentation and the relationships between species, the 'Protozoa Games' interactive installations allow humans and live protozoa to compete in a pinball-like environment mediated by digital microscope and motion tracking technologies.  In Follow-Me humans score points by moving their bodies to match Protozoa movements. In Control-Me humans score points by  getting Protozoa to do their bidding by stategies of domination or  friendly appeal.   Ylem Show - Interfacing Ideas Show - Blue Room Gallery, San Francisco, 2003 ; Biodifferences Show, BEAP, Perth Australia, 2004. Revised 2008

TransitTime. The installation presents a sound/video/kinetic ‘infomatic’ event which changes in real time based on the  live position of San Francisco Muni trains moving about the city at the moment of viewing.  Includes video that matches what passengers are seeing and the "Magic Muni Chair' that vibrates in resonance with real train movements. YLEM Show - Somarts Gallery, 2001; Exploratorium - Teleopolis Show, 2002

50 Points of Light: 50 Points of Light  shows 14 world cities simultaneously via live web camera images. It asks viewers to explore the ways these places are different and the ways they are becoming the same. Invited to be part of Siggraph98 Pioneers show.

CrimeZland.  A "Disneyland of Crime".  Information Visualization event featuring new questions about the concept of crime and interactive extravaganzas. Combined physical and internet event. Winner Honorary Mention 1998 Ars Electronica Interactive Art competition. Paula Levine C-theory Interview

The Telepresent, The present is a "magic" box with no wires that automatically sends images from wherever it is to others who are watching via the Web. Each person must decide where to take it and ultimately who to give it to.  Web viewers can communicate via synthesized speech with the holder of the present.  GPS locator shows web viewers the exact location of the present.

MASTERCLASS in Web/Multimedia Integration  Copenhagen96.  Invited as one of three world artists to work as part of Copenhagen96 Cultural Capital of Europe activities to create a masterclass for Scandinavian artists.  My class focused on teaching artists to act as researchers in cutting edge areas of inquiry.  More information about Copenhagen96 and Global Galeri.

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE NTT Research Center, Palo Alto, CA. Assisted policy planners in conceptualizing theture of telecommunications.

HOMESTEADS IN MIND SPACE   La Finca / The Homestead project Valencia,Spain.  Part of International team of artists using the Web to explore the concepts of the homestead and colonization.My project focused on the meme as an idea that "colonizes" the mind and the role of the Web as a propagator of ideas. information. Information about the Homestead project.

PAIR ARTIST IN RESIDENCY at Xerox PARC Research Center, Palo Alto, CA Competitively selected to participate in experimental artist in residence program. Worked collaboratively with researchers in invention of new multimedia information spaces. More information about PARC and the PAIR artist in residence program.

MEMORY MAP SIGCHI (Boston,MA) , MULTIMEDIA94 Art Show, and DATA/DADA Show, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD An interactive sound installation that maps memories and anticipations to physical space. Voices of older viewers come from in front of current viewer and voices of younger come from behind. Digital Video serves as the main interface and 2 computers communicate via a network to execute the event.  1995

IS ANYONE THERE? SIGCHI (Monterrey,CA) and SIGGRAPH (Chicago) Computer automatically calls selected pay phones in the city 24 hours a day and uses intelligent programming and digitized speech to engage those who answer in conversations about their lives and their surroundings. Viewers using voice recognition an interactively devise multiple strategies to navigate record of conversations and related digital video. WINNER Golden Nica Ars Electronica International Competition for Interactive Art. 1993

INQUIRY THEATER.  Participants could take a virtual walk down Mission Street in San Francisco's ethnic Mission neighborhood.  Speech recognition determined direction of movement and virtual entry into the stores.  Images were accompanied by music from countries of origin for Mission residents.  WINNER Honorary Mention Ars Electronica.

ORATORIO FOR RELIGIOUS OPINION V2 Group. 'S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands An interactive sound installation creates an "opera" of voice by digitizing the opinions of citizens and moving processed versions of their stored voices among several loudspeakers on a public square. Points of view get identified with particular physical locations. International Manifestation for Unstable Media . 1990

FATHER WHY ARS ELECTRONICA, Linz, Austria and Richmond Art Center A physical space serves as a metaphor for the emotional space surrounding the imminent death of a loved one. Computer responds with digital speech and music to viewers walking through the places of anger, longing, sadness, and forgetfulness.1989

EXCURSIONS IN EMOTIONAL HYPERSPACE NCGA CADRE Show San Jose, CA Four computer controlled mannequins each recounted a fictional life event from a unique emotional perspective. Mannequins were activated by a viewer's presence nearby. Movement to another mannequin caused the new one to reflect on the utterances of the previous dummy from its own perspective. The mannequins seemed to be actively listening to each other. 1988

DEMON SEED, SIGGRAPH Art Show, Anaheim, CA Four computer choreographed moving and talking robot arms simulated demons in various world cultures and were periodically controllable by audience via velvet squeeze rods. Robots spoke with processed versions of audience voices. 1987

OCEAN MERGE CSU Summer Arts program, San Luis Obispo, CA By reading the changing resistance of sea water, the computer uses wave action to create a sound event of changing spatial location and digitized combinations of the viewers' voices with sea mammal sounds. Prototype installation was built as invited sculpture for summer arts festival. 1987

HI STRANGER, WELCOME TO CITY HALL, SF Arts Festival. 1986 Interactive robots used synthesized speech and computer controlled video switching to simulate bureaucrats. Commissioned for City Hall lobby for festival.

SYNTHETIC SPEECH THEATRE, CADRE Festival, San Jose, 1986. 4 programmed computer personalities conversed with viewers via synthesized speech and voice recognition. Computer enabled each voice to come from its own space.

PARADE OF SHAME, SF Cable TV & SIGGRAPH Art Show, 1985. Home viewers and visitors to the art show affected computer graphics via calls to station automatically processed by my computer program. Participants' choices about the pace, process and direction of evolution affected the unfolding action.

TIME ENTITY, SJSU and SFSU Galleries, 1983-84. A computer graphic and sound representation of an artificial, time-sensitive lifeform interacted with viewers in a forest installation allowing them to send messages forward in time and to inspect specific moments in its life history.

flashlight theater

FLASHLIGHT THEATER.  Art Institute of Chicago. 1984.  Audience members shape evolving narative by activating fictional characters speech by pointing flashlight at speaker boxes on the stage.

PATENT: INTERACTIVE PRINT MEDIA, 1982. Invention of  a technique applicable to various types of print media whereby electronic circuitry produces sound, light and other effects in response to various inputs such as touch, position, sound, time, touch pattern, etc. (Featured in Venture magazine as patent of the month)

COMPUTERIZED STREET EVNETS. 1981.  Bookspace Gallery, Chicago.  Storewindows of gallery respond 24/7 to passersby touch and to passing car lights. Four events include: 1.  Sound event with notes activated by touch spots. 2. Audience graphic vote - algortihmic graphics voted on by passersby - resulting graphic is composed by most popular elements to that moment. 3. hypertext story with narative choices seleted by passersby. 4. performance events ask passersby to take actions by running to nearby landmarks.

Contact Information

Stephen Wilson, Professor
Conceptual / Information Arts Program
Art Department/ 1600 Holloway, San Francisco State University/, SF, CA 94132
(415) 338-2291 Email to swilson(
Url of this page: http//
rev 7/30/06