Shanghai Express: an interactive installation dealing with the city as a fragile organism


Session Title:

  • Location/Space (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Shanghai Express: an interactive installation dealing with the city as a fragile organism




  • In 2013 Laurent Mignonneau and Christa Sommerer developed a new interactive installation called „Shanghai Express’. It premiered at the „City of Counterlight’ exhibition at the Power Station of Art in Shaghai, China on 3rd December 2013. The exhibition, curated by Yang Dongjang from Tsinghua University brought together installations, designs and artworks that deal with issues of urbanism, archiecture, location as well as how the public space is changing through media. The intention of the exhibition was „to reveal to the public the unique point of view of contemporary designers usually taken for granted in daily life, the intelligent and systematical combination of innovative thinking and social concerns, the interpretation of the city value through the integration of art, science and the analysis of urban organization in the past and present.’Our artwork „Shanghai Express’ consists of an interactive window that resembles a train window. Two users sit on the side of the window and they can swipe their hands along the window’s surface. Doing this, they travel through a virtual city scape that is generated on the fly through user interactions. A generative software created by Laurent Mignonneau grows skycrapers, buildings, bridges, lamps, rivers and street lights through generative algorithms. These archictural elements appear on the virtual train window’s surface, they represent an abstracted landscape at night. Users can change the direction of the train ride as well as the speed of the journey through the movements of their hands. At certain times of interactions fires, smog, rain and snow can occur as well. All depends on the interaction parameters and collaboration the two users and their sensitivity.„Shanghai Express’ deals with the concept of the city as a fragile organism that is created, influenced, changed and even put in danger through public decisions and interactions.