Can’t find anyone willing to join you for a quick game of tag in the park? Head to the River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where artist Dan Corson’s interactive light-environment piece Rays (2013) will play with you all night long. Composed of robotic lighting fixtures and motion-detecting radar, the work spans the park’s five-acre Great Lawn and illuminates it in different choreographed patterns every half hour after the sun sets. The radar will track visitors’ movements across the lawn and initiate a variety of games with them. One involves the robotic lights selecting a visitor on the field and following that person’s movements while other visitors try to figure out how to steal the spotlight from the selected person. Another game works like a cat-laser pointer: a small green light starts to dance around the field and visitors have to try to “catch” it.
Inspired by Europe’s great baroque knot gardens, this piece also changes with the seasons—the lights take on different color palettes as the months pass. The piece sparks visitors to reimagine the possibilities for the public environment and encourages the return of creative play in public spaces.