Imagine walking through an eerie forest at night. Every sound grabs your attention, making your adrenaline rush and your heart beat faster and faster.
These natural body sensations are captured by the interactive art piece called Symforest by Shiori Saito. It is a small artificial forest that uses sensors to trigger lights and sounds based on the participant’s changing emotions.
“I’m really just questioning the relationship between people and technology,” said Saito, an emerging artist with a degree in media art and digital technology from the Alberta College of Art and Design.
Saito, 24, is one of only four post-secondary finalists in the upcoming 2010 Media Fresh Awards. Her Symforest is a finalist under a new category in the awards for best hardware or software innovation.
A participant walks through the Symforest in complete darkness while carrying a lantern.
Sensors embedded in the lantern’s handle measure the sweat in the participants hand, which controls the forest audio in the room and the amount of light the lamp gives off.
Shiori Saito, a finalist in the 2010 Media Fresh Fresh Awards, used a mixture of technology and art to create her interactive art piece, Symforest.
Photo: Marina Giannitsos/ Calgary Journal
The more the participant’s hands sweat, the louder the audio becomes and the brighter the lamp grows.
The goal is to present these unconscious changes in our bodies in a conscious way.
“The sweat means that you’re totally emotionally immersed,” Saito said. “It’s like feeling your body through the technology; you’re extended but it’s kind of coming back to you again.”
The Media Fresh Awards, hosted by Digital Alberta, will be held on April 30 in Ross Glen Hall at Mount Royal University.
Saito said that the awards are a great opportunity to get out there and get known. This is her first time entering and she said that the amount of categories available – 15 in total – gave a lot of room for even artists to submit.
Most people view digital media as work dealing with the Internet and websites, but don’t realize how broad of a field it actually is. The Media Fresh Awards aim to reward all types of work in the digital media landscape.
“Other awards that are out there do not reflect the diversity and the depth of what’s going on in digital content and digital media,” said Mark Ruthenberg, the co-chair of the judges for the awards.
Ruthenberg, the founding director of Digital Alberta, started the Media Fresh Awards in Calgary in 2002.
Now he is the general manager of FoundLocally.com, a website that provides a database to all sorts of information about communities across Canada including travel, entertainment, food, etc.
“We realized it was important for the industry to recognize excellence and that is part of Digital Alberta’s mandate, to promote excellence in the province,” Ruthenberg said.
Suitcase Interactive, a company that builds websites, web experiences and digital marketing campaigns, won the agency of the year award in the 2007 Media Fresh Awards.
This year the company is a finalist for two projects it has submitted under the best commercial website for less than $25,000 category: a website for Athletes World and an online catalogue for Coast Mountain Sports.
“Digital and new media, like mobile applications or websites, don’t often get the limelight like traditional media does,” said Ryan Gill, CEO and co-founder of Suitcase Interactive.
“It’s important that marketers out there see the work that can be done,” he said, adding that winning an award benefited Suitcase Interactive by attracting attention from bigger clients.
René Smid, executive director for Digital Alberta and awards co-ordinator, said that the goal of the awards is to bring awareness and support to Albertans working in the digital media industry.
The winners of the awards will be recognized by Digital Alberta on the website as well as in a catalogue that will be published after the awards.
Smid said that Digital Alberta also works with the Canadian New Media Awards, so that the finalists can be entered into those awards as well.
She added that this was to have Alberta recognized on a national level as “having some really unbelievable talent.”
The Media Fresh Awards start at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed by the awards ceremony – hosted by Dave Kelly – at 7:30 p.m. There will also be an after-party with food, drinks and live music. Tickets are $30 for student admission and $50 for professional admission.
For more information visit their website.