Electro Magnetism

“Urban spectacle” is how Cameron McNall and Damon Seeley describe the work they do as the architecture-and-design team Electroland. Spectacle, they point out, is what made Paris great in the 1800s; bold designs like the Eiffel Tower created a mood and helped define the essence of the city. The two use today’s equivalents—such as large-scale video walls and computer-controlled lighting—to do the same for contemporary cities.

“We formed Electroland to celebrate public space and explore the ways that private and public interact,” McNall says, “particularly with new advances in technology and the realities of how people relate to one another in these times.” Their RGB project at the Southern California Institute of Architecture commented on private control of public space through allowing individuals to program a massive light display by calling a number on their cell phones. An upcoming project at 11th and Flower Streets in downtown Los Angeles will transform the movement of people entering the building into lighting patterns on the facade.

Not all of Electroland’s projects are high-tech. For a signage project in Hollywood, the engine was the sun: enormous cutouts depicting scenes from famous films cast shadows onto movie-production buildings, broadcasting the identity of the area as the home of moviemaking. “People immediately embraced that project, so clearly it taps into some larger shared values,” McNall says. “Of course the challenge as we get bigger is, How can we include more people and have them begin to actually make connections between each other?”

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