Art meets technology in new street installations

Published on 20 February 2020

Huw Jones at the Pearson Street wall where his artwork will be installed (2) (Custom).jpg

High-tech artworks that turn the urban streetscape into a musical instrument and transform building facades into blank canvases for dazzling projections will soon take pride of place in Charlestown’s CBD.

Lake Macquarie City Council has commissioned five artworks as part of the Charlestown CREATE project.

CREATE is a City-wide art activation project targeting specific areas within Lake Mac, funded by Council and the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.

The first Charlestown CREATE artwork, by Hunter-based sound artist Huw Jones, will turn everyday objects like handrails, plants and power poles along Pearson Street into touch-activated electronic instruments using conductivity technology.

Nearby, Alex Umpel, another local artist, will create a ‘projection mapping’ on a building across from Charlestown Square, turning its façade into a giant animated artwork at night.

Council Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism Jacqui Hemsley said projection mapping art was a large-scale “immersive” form of art, contouring a building’s outline precisely.

“This precision means the animation can seemingly interact with the building’s bricks-and-mortar features,” Ms Hemsley said.

“The creative application has been used around the world to turn iconic buildings into illuminated masterpieces.

 “It’s such an eye-catching concept, and one which will really bring that part of Pearson Street to life at night.”

Elsewhere in the precinct, Melbourne creative studio John Fish will install a giant interactive lighting installation that uses motion tracking sensors to detect pedestrians and translate their movement into light trails.

“These three artworks, together with the upcoming revamp of Pearson Street Mall and the recent opening of GPT’s food and entertainment precinct, will make Charlestown a much more attractive and vibrant destination,” Ms Hemsley said.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack welcomed news of the project’s commencement.

“When complete, these installations will transform the look and feel of this part of the Charlestown CBD, enticing more people to visit, dine and socialise with friends, which will have flow on benefits for local businesses.

“The CREATE installations will also give the CBD an exciting injection of culture and creativity, contributing to a sense of identity and community for people who live and work in the area.

“This is just one example of the more than 1,000 great projects being rolled out across the State thanks to the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.”

Charlestown CREATE works are expected to begin in May, with all three due for completion by September.