State Street Underpass, State Street, Santa Barbara, CA
Kelp on the underside of State Street Underpass
Photograph by Jonathan PJ Smith

Experiment Weekend – Kelp

The State Street Underpass goes under the 101 Freeway and is the main link between downtown Santa Barbara and the beach. 

Looking for new ways to revitalize downtown, The City of Santa Barbara and The Arts Fund decided that closing The Underpass to traffic and lighting it up with projection for a night would be a great idea….and they were right. 

The Environment Makers were brought on board as technical leads, co-curators, and art contributors. 

Kelp from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper

We decided that turning one of the two sections of The Underpass into a kelp forest would look pretty cool.  For footage, we turned to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, who, very generously, let us use their kelp and sea creature footage.

The setup was complex. Because the ceiling was so low compared to the width, the only way to make a full-sized image along one side of the section was to blend a single image across three short-throw projectors. To fill the other half ceiling meant having a twin set up on the other side.  

To illuminate the other section of the underpass, we transitioned with black and white jellyfish that led into a series of interactive projections. Ethan Turpin projected using “Big Scope”. a large triangular kaleidoscope with a camera at one end, Tai Rodrig and Alan Macy exhibited a project we’d been working on called The Breathing Chair in which a seat detects a person’s breathing and translates it into 3D imagery. Tim Wood beamed interactive imagery onto people, and Carlos Padilla brought out The Font, a cymatic experience for the whole family. 

Complete with a bar and DJ, Experiment Weekend in The State Street Underpass was a huge success

Special Thanks to Nina Johnson, Torrie Cutbirth , Jamie Dufek, and, Elly Iverson.

experiment weekend movie

An Experiment in Santa Barbara from Justin Gunn on Vimeo.

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