”Colour by Numbers” - Catalogue Essay

Linda Ryan Bengtsson

Unexpectedly does the Torre de los Perdigones change before your eyes. As the daylight disappears, the building comes to life. Rising above el Parque de los Perdigones, the interactive light installation Colour by Numbers transforms the appearance of the cityscape.

Colour by Numbers allows anyone in possession of a mobile phone to change the coloured lights in the windows of Torre de los Perdigones. By calling +34 656 83 24 56 and following the directions, you can change the appearance using your keypad. First you choose which floor(s) to control by pressing 1 to 9. Thereafter the colours can be modulated by pressing key number 1 and 3 to control the amount of red, 4 and 6 to control green, 7 and 9 to control blue.

The mobile phone as a remote control generates a familiar interface accessible to most people. Through this digital technology the static immobile architecture is transformed into a changeable interface, possible to be interacted with by anyone. Each individual is given the role of a producer and is able to express oneself, communicate and create attention in the cityscape. The continuous change of colours becomes a representation of users and mediates the experience of presences. It builds a relationship between users and audience, users and other users and between the audience and the installation itself.

The intangible information entered by each user through their phone is converted into a physical representation within the architecture of the tower. The interface becomes part of the park and redefines space and context. The installation affects its physical environment and the environment within which it is placed (re)defines the artwork itself. The building is given a new meaning, or an extended meaning, adding to the history of the tower. The merge of an architectural body and a digital interface allow the digital and the virtual to enter the real, and affect our reality, our physical space. Colour by Numbers thereby questions the relationship between the virtual and the real. Is the tower an interface, or a tower?

Through Colour by Numbers the user is given the opportunity to make an input in the public space. An arena usually defined by industrial and political institutions becomes reachable by the citizen. Colour by Numbers wants to discuss who has the control of and access to the public space by exploring means to open these spaces to the citizens.

The essay was published in the catalogue of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, Biacs3.