Open Square is one of the current installations on display at The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, PA. It was created during the pandemic lockdown by artist duo Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero (AKA Luftwerk).
The installation itself is comprised of two interconnected rooms, their walls illuminated by color-changing light. The walls themselves consist of overlapping, vibrant square patterns that give the illusion of depth. This piece is particularly noteworthy because of the virtuosic use of color and perspective to engage the viewer and invite them to reconsider or reconstruct their perceived reality.
This constant bending of the viewers’ perception is the essence of interactivity in Open Square. While moving through the space, the observer can control their position and field of view. The ever-shifting color palette combines with these two variables to create a unique experience for each spectator that is never quite the same moment to moment.
In this piece, the moldable medium is the observers’ own consciousness: their field of view, their attention, and their perception. The dynamic medium is the viewer’s position and orientation. These are all directly influenced by the ever-changing common medium shared by the spectators: the illusory and striking space surrounding them.
The spectator’s input (their position and orientation) is unknown and largely irrelevant to the piece’s function. The viewer can enter and exit as they please; they can gravitate towards the center of the room or the wall. This autonomy affords the viewer a powerful, unique opportunity to mold their experience and the way they interact with the Open Square.