Looping bright colors and lights into Tech

The “Loop” exhibit is currently located in the Acuity Brands Plaza in Tech Square. The interactive exhibit features zoetropes, 19th century animation devices. // Photo by Alex Dubé Student Publications

As a school that is known for its strong engineering and STEM programs, Tech’s artistic side is often overlooked. Therefore, Georgia Tech Arts, a sector of the Institute’s Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being, works to support the intersection of the arts, science and technology through various performances, installations and exhibitions put on throughout campus.

One such exhibition currently open to the public is the “Loop” exhibit located in the Acuity Brands Plaza in front of the Scheller College of Business. The “Loop” exhibit is an interactive sound and light installation that plays “short flip book-style movies inspired by Quebec literature.” It is open 24 hours a day from Sep. 19-Nov. 13. The exhibit itself consists of six large circular “loops,” which are combinations of the railway handcar, the music box and the zoetrope, a 19th century animation device. The zoetrope was utilized before the invention of film to project animated motion pictures. 

It consists of a cylinder with vertically cut slits in its sides and a row of sequential images in the inside. Spinning the zoetrope and looking through the slits allows viewers to see a sequence of moving images. The “Loop” exhibit works in a similar manner as each loop is covered on the inside by a roll of images that spin after a handlebar is pumped.

“Loop is a retro-futuristic installation of giant two meter diameter wheels featuring sound, light and movement. A hybrid zoetrope, music box and handcar, Loop relies on the public participation to move the lever, which animates a series of images,” said Jonathan Villeneuve, one of the principal designers of the exhibit. 

Villeneuve and his partner Olivier Girouard worked with the animation company Ottoblix and the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership & Ekumen in Montreal, Canada to create what they hoped to be an immersive experience connecting the arts and technology for people of all ages to enjoy.

“We were inspired by the mechanical poetry of the zoetrope to give the public — thanks to digital technology — an extraordinary immersive experience. It will be interesting to see how each person responds, but in any case we want to stimulate everyone’s imagination and encourage all to participate, helping people see public space differently,” Girouard and Villenueve said.

Many Tech students who were able to visit the exhibit described it as an enjoyable and stimulating experience.

“I was actually very intrigued by the Loop exhibit,” said first-year CS Ananya Jain. “It took me a while to figure out how to work the loops at first. After that, me and my friend had fun trying out all the different ones. It was also interesting to read the story after experiencing the loop animations.” 

Priyanshu Mehta, first-year CS, also enjoyed interacting with the exhibit and learning more about the integration of arts and technology.

“It was entertaining. We don’t typically see exhibits like these at engineering schools, so I found it to be really interesting to see the intersection of the arts and technology at Georgia Tech,” Mehta said. 

The exhibit’s hands-on features made it appealing to several Tech students.

“I really liked that it was an immersive experience and that I had to operate the loop myself to move the story ahead. Plus, just sitting in the wheels and seeing all the frames line up into a continuous and infinite loop was interesting,” Jain said. 

Mehta agreed that the exhibit’s interactive qualities significantly enhanced his experience at the exhibit. 

“I really enjoyed being able to experiment with the loops and watching the many photographs go extremely quickly,” Mehta said.

Ultimately, students agreed that the exhibit serves as a great addition to Tech’s Arts program, campus and community. 

“I personally feel that Tech gives a lot of emphasis to art, even with all the sculptures around campus,” Jain said. “Additionally, exhibits like this definitely help establish the Art[s] department of Tech as a significant contributor to campus. Many of these exhibits have a STEM aspect to them, like these loops were actual setups that the viewers could work, so it’s a great intersection of engineering and art.”

Mehta echoed this sentiment about the exhibit.

“If you think about it, the walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds, and the Loop exhibit is a great example of that,” Mehta said.