Public urban spectacles get large groups of people involved on a massive but short-term basis. Engaging, interactive and dramatic, they can be the first step towards longer-term, more meaningful participation.

Umbrellium is often commissioned by cities or festivals to create large-scale interactive events where members of the public are directly involved in spectacularly creative actions, for example by collectively designing, building and erecting an 18-storey structure, by using their voices to animate the space around them, or by competing and collaborating. Some of our spectacular projects are listed below.

Mini Burble

Mini Burble is a 10-storey tall mobile structure made of 300 large balloons that form a nimble and reactive structure that visitors are able to 'paint' on.

Each balloon in Mini Burble contains sensors, LEDs and microcontrollers, enabling the balloons to create patterns of colour rippling skyward. Once Mini Burble is launched, members of the public use a Mini Burble App to paint the colours that flow through the 30m form. The public are able to come close to Mini Burble while it is in flight, and in some cases it can be walked through crowds, depending on the complexity of the event and event space available.

The Mini Burble App enables the public to ‘fingerpaint’ and trigger animated colours, creating vivid patterns across its surface. Visitors can paint on their own, but if they coordinate and work together they are able to create more spectacular results.

Photographs © Joel Chester Fildes
Photographs © TETRO / Raphael Carrand

Marling

In Marling the voices of thousands of citizens are given form through spectacular effects that hang in the air above the crowd, forming a delicate, intricate ceiling of animated colour.

In Marling, people become players on the urban stage, together bringing to life a large outdoor public space through their actions and sounds, and building a – sometimes indescribable – shared public memory of collaboration that lasts long after the event. Members of the public generate spectacular three-dimensional effects using their voices, forming a delicate, intricate ceiling of animated colour that hangs around and above the crowd.

Simply set up and performed using lasers, microphones and custom-built software, Marling enables thousands to witness and participate in the collective experience of building an urban scale “aurora”. Umbrellium’s unique collaboration tactics enable community groups to participate directly in the realisation and performance of the spectacle.

Photographs by Igor Vermeer

Primal Source

Primal Source is a large-scale mass-participation interactive outdoor waterscreen projection system for an audience of thousands of people to play with.

Primal Source creates a mirage-like installation that comes to life with colours and ebullient patterns created in response to the competing and collaborative voices, music and screams of the participating audience. Responding to hundreds of sounds emanating from the crowd, the system’s responsive software modes change every few minutes depending on the crowd participation with the installation.

Festival goers captivated by the spectacle of Primal Source

Varying software modes create unique and delightful “creatures” whose colour, shape and movement follows the frequency and amplitude dynamics of individual voices, syllables and sentences picked up; other software modes responded to wider collective phenomena, e.g. three-dimensional distortion in response to the crowd volume. People can sometimes see their own individual contribution in the cacophony, and at other times groups of people work together to generate the visual effects.

Primal Source’s mist-like spectactular water screen projection screen, several stories high, enables tens of thousands of people to view it from miles away and when in front of it, to play and interact with the projected imagery – an amazing experience never to be forgotten.

Open Burble

Open Burble is an enormous mass-participation spectacle that enables participants to design and fly an 18-storey tall interactive structure that transforms the urban skyline.

In Open Burble, members of the public come together to compose, assemble and control an immense rippling inflatable form that changes colour in response to the crowd interacting below. This massive structure, the form of which the public has themselves designed, exists at such a large scale that it is able to compete visually in an urban context with the skyscrapers that surround it.

Burble is about 200 ft tall and is constructed from a set of 140 modular and configurable carbon-fibre units approx. 2m in diameter. Each unit is supported by 7 extra-large helium balloons, for a total of about 1000 individual balloons, which contain sensors, LEDs and microcontrollers, enabling balloons and units to coordinate and create patterns of colour that ripple up towards the sky.

Open Burble at the Singapore Biennale 2006

As well as designing Burble’s structure, participants also collectively fly it, generating colourful forms and patterns through a combination of the crowd’s movement/desires and the impact of the environment on the three-dimensional shape of the Burble. People’s individual contributions become an integral part of a spectacular, ephemeral experience many times their size that they have come together to produce.