|Commissioning Entity||Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership|
|ADA Services||The work wa in the middle of Market Square, which is paved with brick. The work responded to movement. Sound was also an installation component.|
Congregation is an interactive kinetic video and sound installation designed and choreographed for pedestrian performers, created by UK-based media artists KMA – Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler. Congregation was installed in Market Square, Downtown, from February 21 to March 16, 2014 as part of the Market Square Public Art Program.
Congregation transformed Market Square into an interactive stage. The audience became performers, exploring the environment as the installation responded to their movements. By transforming public spaces into temporary theatrical arenas, Congregation explores the seemingly innate human need to participate in - and draw meaning from - ritual gatherings. The music for Congregation is by the contemporary composer, Peter Broderick.
The artwork was originally commissioned by SCAN in partnership with The British Council. The Market Square installation marked the project’s North American debut, and was the inaugural project of the Market Square Public Art Program, presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the City of Pittsburgh, with production support by the Office of Public Art and Flyspace Productions.
KMA is the collaboration of two pioneering artists, Tom Wexler and Kit Monkman. KMA's highly original interactive work stems from a joint interest in the physical patterns of social behavior and in the use of digital technology as a vehicle for public theater. They have presented their interactive works involving public participation for various cities, public institutions and art festivals at places such as the Trafalgar Square and the Shanghai World Expo.
“The idea of communities gathering after dark to enact or watch a drama or ritual lies so deep within us and our ancestral history it’s surely one of the oldest and most essential of human responses to our shared fate. The mutual empathic response to participating in this way is a powerful feeling. It’s not generated by allegiance, or ideology, but simply a common response to the moment. It’s strong, it’s simple - it’s a primitive feeling - and one that summons a sense of connectedness and belonging between strangers across cultural and linguistic barriers. So much of our culture and so much online technology is tied directly to language and we communicate very rarely with our bodies, particularly in public space.
It’s fascinating how a very ancient human instinct to engage with others in public spaces can be enabled in an empathic, ego-less way by very new technology. This coming together of the very ancient and the very new; the very technological, and the very human is at the heart of our excitement with the work.”
— Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler, KMA