Digital tiger roams London's streets

Decode artist, Karolina Sobecka, takes her digital tiger out onto the streets of Kensington

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Video Transcript

My name is Karolina Sobecka and my installation wildlife is going to be presented as part of the Decode exhibition at V&A in London. The tiger is going to be roaming the city Friday, Saturday and Sunday after dark. We’re going to be projecting the tiger on a 3-mile route around the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. We’re going to start at the V&A and go around the neighbourhood. So hopefully a lot of people will encounter it and experience it but I think the piece really exists in people’s imaginations as much as the experiences they have in the city.

It’s a projection out of the car onto the buildings as the car drives by them. The projection is of a tiger, it’s the running tiger and he keeps pace with the car. He’s kind of the other ego of the driver. The tiger moves as far as the car goes so when the car goes really fast, the tiger will gallop and keep pace with it. When the car slows down the tiger will start trotting and then start walking and when the car stops the tiger will stop and look expectantly at the driver, like “Where are we going again?”

One of the things I’m interested in is art that is out of gallery context. So it is not pre-understood as art. It is something that people can encounter on the daily lives as they are walking down the street on their way from work.  I think it’s a very momentary, ephemeral experience that changes how they see the world around them, that changes how they see the city and the space and how they relate to it. This piece is a lot about our relationship to nature and how we understand it and what power it has over us. These ideas are very ancient and very deeply rooted. And these images that are so powerful and have a hold over us that we don’t realize. Our philosophy is constructed around these concepts that don’t necessarily hold true in reality anymore.

The best reaction I ever got was in the sort of abandoned part of the in Los Angeles when all the homeless people thought this was the experience of their life; it was really a vision. Because the light pollution and the ambient light that’s on bigger streets and in big cities competes with the tiger and the tiger becomes a part of the city noise and the city imagery.

It’s really nice to see people’s reactions because they people become little kids all of the sudden and become all, “Oh, look at that” which is a very intuitive and natural reaction but it’s really nice to see. It’s very nice to see that kind of consciousness to their surroundings that people are all the sudden aware and look at things fresh and new.
 

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The projection of the tiger is shone from a moving car on the buildings along the edge of the road. The animal's movements are programmed to correspond to the speed of the car, as it moves.

As part of the Decode show, Karolina Sobecka was invited to set her tiger free on the streets of Kensington. This film shows the exciting results. As the animal runs along it speeds up and slows down with the car, as the car stops, the animal stops too. The framerate of the movie corresponds to the speed of the wheel rotation, picked up by a sensor. If the presence of a moving object (such as another car or pedestrian) is detected with proximity sensors, its animal "avatar" appears in the projection.