Wendy’s Water Cooler Chat

ACPAACPA News, Water Cooler Chat

Recently, I was at the LAX airport and I saw a wonderful, whimsical, interactive media installation. It was a series of 10 vertical columns that were about two feet wide and 24 feet tall. On each panel there was a slice of an image so that taken as a whole, there was a complete picture. The magic of this installation was that each column was a “key.” When a person walked by it, the image rippled or changed, and there was an accompanying sound. So for example, the image from Dubai was a series of different stringed instruments. When people walked by, it was as if the person were playing the instrument. There were four images from different countries. The image from Beijing was a series of images rippling over the water, the image from Tokyo was a series of mosaic scales that created a landscape, and the image from Bangkok was a stack of twirling totems.

Interactive media installation at LAX airport

As fascinating as the media installation was, I was even more fascinated watching people walk by. I know in this day and age it seems we are all buried in our phones. However, as a former art major (graphic design/photography) I was mesmerized. I watched people pass and observed how the images and sounds changed. Because I have become a fanatic about getting to the airport early, I had plenty of time to watch the artwork and sip my Starbucks.

And here is what I learned. In about 20 minutes of observation – only one other couple took any note of the installation and its magic. They actually took a photo with one of them standing in front of it. For me, this was not only an embodiment of my desire to create art that would enhance peoples’ daily lives – but a comment on how if we are literally in a rush on our journey, we miss the beauty around us. I type this as I prepare to head out to the 13th International Congress– where I look forward to meeting many from the global cleft community. I am going to use this as a reminder to be present, enjoy the journey and get my head out of my phone.