Reactor

A Snow Angel for the Digital Age

by An Xiao on April 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES — I’ve always been fascinated by snow angels. The first time I saw snow in person, I jumped in and made an angel. Snow, like sand, is malleable, but unlike the latter it sticks in place and can be used to make fund shapes in the ground.

Dominic Harris’s Ice Angel project takes the fun of snow angels and brings it into the digital realm. Users stand on the podium and as they flap their hands, wings form in LEDs behind them. A 3-D camera monitors their movements, and the LEDs follow suit till they’re finished, and the shape stays in place. The data are remembered, and participants are linked to that shape in future encounters.

Ice Angel remembers your angel patterns for future interactions with the device. (screenshot)

The project video makes it seem almost mystical, like an actual guardian angel floating behind the participants.  But the work is clearly digital, suggesting the angel is birthed from cyberspace rather than the heavens. According to Co.Design. that figures into the artist’s intent:

He sees angels less as proof of deities than as carriers of the most important information in the universe, or a parallel to light in our technological society. After all, light carries information ranging from stars that live on the other side of the galaxy to emails from your aunt in Florida.

Indeed, the work makes me think of cyberpunk classics like Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner, which explore almost-mystic ideas of consciousness within the context of data transfer and computing.

“The merging of angel mythology and the natural phenomenon of light travelling to earth creates an intriguing intersection,” writes Harris in his video statement. “In modern terms, light is our messenger, allowing us to view the universe. An angel’s form is inherently human, yet an angel always originates from beyond.”

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.

Previous post:

Next post: