Paper And Wood Come Alive: The Papel Project


A warm interactive artwork mixes physical materials and digital projections.

Courtney Boyd Myers
  • 27 may 2010

One beautiful project at NYU’s spring ITP show attracted quite the crowd. Drawn to its structural beauty, onlookers were awed as their movements made a wall constructed of simple paper and wood come “alive.”

Behind the paper screen of the Papel project lies a short-throw projector that projects an abstract live video feed (made in Processing). In order for the animation to begin, the projector must be triggered by a proximity sensor installed on the front of Papel. When there is nothing in front of Papel, the paper wall radiates a soft purple glow. But once a viewer stands in front of the installation and the sensor detects the viewer, the Processing sketch is activated. The purple glow fades out and the live video feed is back-projected onto the structure. The viewer is able to see a shadowy feed of their own live image. Once the viewer leaves, Papel returns to its soft purple glow.

Created by ITP students Christine Q. Nguyen and Benji Canning-Pereira, Papel was built to be in a storefront window display, but the piece is incredibly versatile.  It could be used in restaurants, clubs, lounges, resorts, or —what Christine and Benji hope for— a fashion show set.  They started working with paper after studying the history of fans and what different artists have done with the medium and the two share a love for fashion, make-up, design, paper art, and their desire to change environments and landscapes.

Together, they studied ways they could evolve normal screen projections into something more physical.

“Screens are something that we look at everyday,” Christine says, “They’re flat, cold and often plainly structured.  We wanted to create a screen that was beautiful, inviting and textured. We wanted to create a piece that would invite interaction using simple gestural movements.”

Watch a video of the project below:

Christine Q. Nguyen

Benji Canning-Pereira


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