Scout

About

2012 saw the public launch of SCOUT, an 8m-tall interactive installation in Takutai Square by multimedia artist Tim Gruchy. SCOUT is designed to respond to its environment – changes in light, temperature, weather, sound, movement and touch – and communicate back via active screen and sound systems.
VideoPro worked closely with Tim and Sydney-based architectural firm Johnson Pilton Walker throughout the project; providing, installing and integrating the video wall and programming of the complex computer network that drives SCOUT's sensory responses.

Project Objectives

SCOUT’s sculptural form consists of a heavily engineered metal frame, covered on three sides by a dark, subtly reflective ‘skin’. The fourth side comprises a video wall that generates ever-changing abstract visuals in response to data gathered by its sensors. It incorporates outdoor LED technology, the only current screen technology visible in full daylight. The artist wished to introduce a softening layer and to register differentiation from ubiquitous commercial signage manifestations in city sites. Hence, the LED image has subtly been diffused using a combination of rear projection material and tinted glass. Additionally, embedded in the form are LED strip lights that extend the chroma of the LED screen.

SCOUT also responsively generates sounds, ranging from sci-fi sound effects to emotional musical soundscapes. Tim, himself a composer, worked with musician James Pinker and vocalists including Ngati Whatua performer Precious Clark to compose SCOUT’s soundtrack. 

SCOUT possesses a dual audio output system. A set of close field monitoring speakers for the near listener, and a much larger speaker for projecting sound out into the square. Both of these audio systems are augmented by a substantial sub woofer that provides another layer of sensorial experience for the visitor.

The work’s behaviours are driven by a rack of networked computers, programmed to generate complex algorithmic responses to sensory information. Computer One is the brain that orchestras all activity as well as generating background audio. Computer Two listens to the sensors and generates real time generative sound and vision. Computer Three is a vision server that accesses and delivers custom programmed visual resources from a vast library.

Sensors include microphones, a camera and a touch panel mounted at human arm height. Temperature, humidity, brightness and rainfall are also monitored by a set of environmental sensors. A clock and calendar give SCOUT an understanding of the time of day, day of the week, month, year and seasons.
With an infinitely changing set of stimuli, SCOUT’s own behaviour is perpetually changing, ensuring it is never experienced the same way twice.