Phoenix, AZ, USA
As the world rapidly changes and various instabilities threaten traditions that rely on public space, Ofrenda Digital seeks to serve as an artistic, educational, and archival piece. Originally started as a research project regarding different artistic archival methods for cultural traditions, this artwork uses dynamic projection mapping to immerse the user in Día de Muertos and the Spanish language.
Viewers experience a variety of data-driven narratives from celebrations across different cities — from posted and archival photographs and videos and sounds — to fully computationally generated designs. A variety of beautiful projected animations corresponding with different real-world celebrations illuminate an altar surface as well as white plaster calaveras (skulls).
As viewers continue to interact with the media, the animations change and evolve based on these interactions. Due to its generative nature, no animation loop is exactly the same.
Technology provides life to an otherwise stagnant installation, but only through interactions from viewers do the animations continue, and only via artifacts of real-life celebrations in different cities do they exist. This project, and projects like it, are motivated by the fact that as mass migration and social and climate instability occur, these types of traditions linked to physical shrines and public spaces come under threat — and that through beauty and technology, new traditions and methods can be explored and fostered.
This artwork proposes beautiful ways that these traditions may be archived, preserved, and experienced — as well as inviting viewers to imagine the future of their own traditions with art and technology.
Nina M. Lutz is a Phoenix-born computer scientist and designer. She holds a B.Sc in Computer Science and Design from MIT and is graduating this fall with her MS in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT.
Where many computer scientists want to make computers think more like people, Lutz aims to use computers to remind us to think of other people. Lutz’s methods in doing this reconsider the design and technology choices around the exploration of human identity through technology and art.
Lutz considers her work a love letter between computer science and art. She leverages computational and artistic methods in the form of interactive experiences and creative technologies that are empowering and imaginative and can be adapted for a variety of expressions by different communities and creators.