Play with Fire: A Real-Time Video Experience for Sustainability


Session Title:

  • Sustainability

Presentation Title:

  • Play with Fire: A Real-Time Video Experience for Sustainability




  • Play with Fire is an exploratory research project that proposes an interactive installation to engage the audience senses in unconventional ways. It is a performative, immersive experience that invites people to interact with real-time video from selected forests by playing with virtual fires through gestural interaction.

    We envisage the installation triggering controversial feelings by combining the “beauty and danger” of a forest on fire. This duality becomes part of the experience, and raises concerns in the audience mind, such as the pleasure and excitement of playing with fire versus its effects on a natural resource such as a forest. The experience concludes with visuals of a forest virtual regeneration process underlining the message: the forest will eventually grow again, but what is the price to pay?

    This audiovisual setup is cross referenced with online data – videos, photos, news headlines – of the most recent forest fires of the covered area. This approach contributes to explicit its dramatic potential, enhancing the emotional entanglement – “shouldn’t we actually act?”

    The outcome of the “play with fire” experience takes two forms: immediately, as a final visual outline displaying data on what would have been the effective destructive consequences of the participants’ actions of playing with virtual fire. Later, feedback will be given through their own mobile devices, by a generative application that displays the slow regeneration process of the (virtual) damaged forest, stimulating awareness and ultimately care.

    Living in places that have always been extremely exposed to forest fires, makes us very sensitive to the destruction of the forest patrimony by fire hazards, which also applies to a world scale. This interactive experience paradoxically encourages playing with fire to stimulate awareness and prevention of fire related damages to the forests. Ultimately, we seek to pose a constructive approach to the destructive dynamics of fire that aggravate climate change. Can art foster awareness and respect for nature?

    Collaboratively developed by artists, activists and technologists, Play with Fire is an innovative approach – with a challenging technological component – that comprises a strong dimension on social and natural sciences converging New Media Arts and Sustainability.

PDF Document: