Midpeninsula Post

PHOTOS: Palo Alto’s Code:ART festival

The anchor installation “Questions for the Curious Orchid” by Nate Mohler in October 2023. (Eason Dong)

Last week, downtown Palo Alto featured seven interactive art exhibits as part of the Palo Alto Public Art Program’s Code:ART festival. The exhibits centered around different themes, with each created using a mix of technology and interactive components.

“The idea behind it is just [to] really invite people to come out, get together, play, interact and collaborate,” Program Coordinator Nadya Chuprina said.

According to Chuprina, another important aspect of the Code:Art Festival is the onsite artists who created the installations.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to interact with artists face to face [to] really talk to them,” Chuprina said.

The anchor piece of the festival was “Questions for the Curious Orchid” by artist Nate Mohler, located in King Plaza in front of the City Hall. The exhibit, inspired by the community’s recovery from COVID-19, consisted of colorful inflatable trees and live music from a DJ stand.

“I was like, ‘What’s an example of a positive form of contagion or a positive form of something that transmits ripples throughout different systems?’” Mohler said. “I was really interested in how trees communicated with one another through mycelium networks and tree roots and different ecological species.”

The exhibit also featured Lidar technology, similar to those used in self-driving cars, to allow visitors to interact with the exhibit through motion sensing. The system also used ethernet and DMX cables to link the inflatable trees together.

“It was sort of a playful thing,” Mohler said. “[The visitors] saw themselves impacting the forest as a whole and they can sort of see [that] we are all just as these trees are, connected. There’s some metaphor metaphor here where we’re all connected.”

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