The Parklife Project sought to provide visitors to Madison Square Park the option to engage with and affect the space's infrastructure. Our research showed extremely high mobile phone usage by park visitors and we felt that these devices would serve as good entry points into our installation. Given the limitations imposed by the available technology, and the general difficulty in generating participation in such projects, we focused heavily on designing the prompts that would encourage potential users to visit a website that corresponded with a fountain lighting installation.
With an understanding of how people would likely use the installation, and with the weather getting cold enough that testing in the park became more or less impossible, we turned to building a simulation of the experience for an indoor presentation in late December. Here the focus was much more on coding a working prototype, which involved building a particle system to simulate the fountain and lighting behavior, as well as creating a website that could be accessed by many people at once via an Internet connection. The prototype was presented using an overhead projector in our studio and an array of proximity sensors. Participants visited a website where they could affect the color of the fountain with their phone and the intensity of it with their physical presence.