An interactive installation utilizing light, sound, and movement to evoke a shared play experience in the public realm

The Urban Conga proudly introduces oPTIK, an interactive installation that provides an opportunity for users to manipulate the work, the space, and the surrounding context in various ways. The installation evokes communal connection by creating shared play experiences, sparking an ever-changing playful atmosphere within a space by providing an open-ended platform for users to engage with light, sound, and movement. 


Dad and daughter playing with oPTIK together.
Photo credit: Savannah Lauren

The work will be presented by the NYC Downtown Alliance at Three World Trade on Cortlandt Way until June 21st. The idea for oPTIK came from the understanding that if people can begin to even slightly manipulate the space they occupy, they will start to feel a greater sense of ownership of the place. 


10 units of oPTIK sit along Cortlandt Way.
Photo credit: Sara Kerens


Photo credit: Savannah Lauren


oPTIK reflecting the surrounding city landscape.
Photo credit: Savannah Lauren

The interactive installation serves as a way to look at how temporary public activations can begin to impact our built environment in a positive way. It becomes a tool for evoking community interaction and social activity through its open-ended play design. The work was created as an alternative lens that transports people away from their daily routine and into a state of play, allowing them to engage with the work, the surrounding space, and others in new ways. 


As the rings are moved a musical note is played every fifteen degrees of rotation.
Photo credit: Savannah Lauren


Photo credit: Savannah Lauren


Photo credit: Savannah Lauren

The Urban Conga collaborated with Serge Maeheu and INIT to develop oPTIK into a touring spatial activation that would spark unique, playful experiences around the globe. Inspired by the gyroscope’s form and playability, oPTIK was created as a series of rings that can be rotated on multiple axis, allowing for an endless play experience. oPTIK was developed as two sets of ten units that can be placed in various orientations, allowing them to adapt to different sites around the world. The 6-foot gyroscope-like forms contain a dichroic film at the center that enables the user to rotate the segments to create new, ever-changing opportunities that reflect the sun and surrounding context during the day, while refracting the internal uplighting at night, resulting in a filtered view of the surrounding context. The experience is elevated further as musical notes begin to play at every fifteen degrees of rotation. 


Photo credit: Savannah Lauren


Photo credit: Savannah Lauren

More than just a photogenic monument within a space, the work is designed to become a communal hub for social connection. Optik showcases the value of play within our everyday spaces and how it can be utilized to create more inclusive, social, and equitable spaces and places.


Photo of oPTIK on Chicago Navy Pier
Photo credit: INIT


Photo of oPTIK in Montreal Canada
Photo credit: INIT


Photo of oPTIK in Toronto Canada
Photo credit: INIT

About The Urban Conga

The Urban Conga is an award-winning Brooklyn, NY-based multidisciplinary design studio focused on sparking community interaction and social activity through open-ended play. The Studio achieves that by utilizing play methodologies as a critical tool implemented not just in the work itself, but also in the participatory design process in which the work is created. Their work explores the concept of creating more playable cities as an ecosystem of inclusive multiscale playable opportunities intertwined within our existing urban fabric. The Studio works with communities to create inclusive spatial opportunities that transform once-overlooked or underutilized situations into stimulating creative outlets that evoke our innate drive to discover, explore, and empathize with others. Their work encourages people to think about the value of play beyond the playground, and how creating more play everywhere can dramatically impact our daily lives.