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Dan Corson



MATERIALS: Pattern projectors, robotic fixtures, infra-red camera,
doplar radar detectors, custom tracking and interactive game software

DATE: 2013

LOCATION: Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Originally inspired by the great European baroque knot gardens, this 5-acre Great Lawn is the canvas for a giant ever-changing light environment that echoes patterns of the past and updates them for the future. Utilizing powerful dynamic and robotic lighting fixtures, the lawn is activated every half hour after sunset.

In addition to the choreographed sequences, there is a complex interactive lighting component that will track and “play” with people through a series of simple intuitive games. The motions of the people on the lawn will control the lighting in some instances, and in others it will track them similar to follow spots at an ice skating event. As the seasons change, the lights take on new color palettes; saturated hues are utilized on the snow-covered lawn in winter and colors best displayed on green or brown lawn are selected for those seasons.

Project Partners

Visual Terrain
Bandit Lites
Beaudry Interactive
Martin Entertainment
Sasaki Landscape Architecture

Interactive components

Sensing: When the general illumination park lights are on, radar detectors sense motion in the corners of the park and direct the robotic fixtures into those areas projecting individually selected spinning patterns.

Games:  The field covered by a chasing rainbow of colors indicates it is time for the beginning of the interactive game section.  Each half hour “show” has two randomly selected games that play for three or six minutes.

The games are:

  • Stealing Dorothy Hamel’s Spotlight: Four robotic lights randomly select one person to follow in on the field. The game is to figure out how to trick the robot and steal the spotlight from the person selected.
  • Hot-Cold: a blue spotlight is turned on in the field. As people move towards the spotlight the closest person to the spotlight is tracked and their position changes the color of the spotlight—changing the color from blue through all the different colors until it turns red when you jump onto the spotlight. Once you are on it, the “prize” is flashing the entire lawn through a series of colors before throwing the spotlight into another random location and starting again.
  • Cat Laser Pointer: a small green spot intelligently dances and dodges the people who attempt to catch it.
  • Yellow Spot Blue Spot: out of all the people on the lawn, the computer selects two people randomly giving each a different colored spotlight. Can you trick the computer into switching followspot colors as it follows you around the field?

Easter Eggs: the name originates from secret animations and videos incorporated into software that are only revealed if you know the secret keystrokes. Our “Easter Eggs” are a series of gestures that will set off some brief visual “prizes” during the interactive game sequence times for “people in the know.”

  • Jump: if more than 55% of the people on the active lawn area jump up and down together (if there are more than 9 people) then it will cause all the lights in the field to blink on and off like people jumping.
  • Flash Mob: If there are more than 9 people in the active area and if more than 55% of the people on the active lawn run in and huddle then break out it will cause all the lights on the lawn to “go crazy” and swirl around for a few seconds.
  • Run for the River: if there more than 55% of the people on the active lawn begin at the curving sidewalk and at one time run towards the river, the whole lawn will ripple in colors of blue, white and teal.


Dan Corson’s artwork straddles the disciplines of art, theatrical design, architecture, landscape architecture and sometimes even magic. His projects have ranged from complex rail stations and busy public intersections to quiet interpretive buildings, meditation chambers and galleries.

With a Masters Degree in Art from the University of Washington and a BA in Theatrical Design from San Diego State University, Corson’s work is infused with drama, passion, layered meanings and often engages the public as co-creators within his environments. He is particularly interested in green design and new technologies and how these tools can help frame and amplify the natural word and our shifting relationship to it.

Among his various awards, Corson has been honored with 8 coveted Public Art Network Year-in-Review National Awards, received the NW Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (NIAUSI prize) fellowship in Italy, and was tapped by Seattle Homes and Lifestyle as one of the top people that define Seattle Design. He has partnered with architects and landscape architects for 4 AIA Awards and 3 ASLA awards.

Visit the artist’s website 

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