As We Are

The people of Columbus aren’t strangers to public art. Luckily, our city is full of it. What happens, though, when the people of Columbus become the public art?

Enter As We Are, an incredible, high-tech interactive public artwork at the Greater Columbus Convention Center by local artist and Columbus College of Art and Design professor Matthew Mohr.

This artwork is captivating from the moment you lay eyes on it. Hundreds of thousands of LED lights create a rotating display of faces, each one the face a previous visitor to the futuristic photo booth in the back of the sculpture.

I was too entranced to remember to take a photo at the time I logged my face into the database, so I snagged the one below from a RoadsideAmerica.com article about the same artwork.

As We Are.
Photo by As We Are artist Matthew Mohr, from RoadsideAmerica.com

The process of being forever entered into a database of rotating faces for a giant head sculpture is actually quite easy. By interacting with a touch screen, a visitor can take a “selfie” in which the 32 cameras in the booth simultaneously snap a photo to create a 3-D composite image.

For me, the whole process took about a minute. I walked into the booth, followed some simple instructions, okayed my photo, then walked out and anxiously (and narcissistically) awaited my face to appear on the giant head.

And appear it did!

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 2.45.33 PM
My face, lookin’ snazzy on As We Are

I was actually surprised by how quickly my photo appeared on the sculpture. It couldn’t have been more than two minutes since I took the photo that my image cycled through, and I saw it cycle through once more before leaving. According to the artist, the database can accommodate 10,000 composite images and can even pull more from the cloud if needed.

The really striking thing about As We Are is that every face is completely unique, yet the artwork remains a singular, cohesive piece. I think that’s a pretty profound statement about our city and the people here.

In an article from Columbus Business First, Mohr speaks about his artwork and the inspiration behind it.

“This is a technology-driven piece. It presents Columbus as a smart city. It certainly ties into the amazing things that are happening around here,” he said. “In terms of open, I’d like to think of Columbus as a really welcoming place. And because this is interactive I think this is a great way for people who have never been to Columbus to engage with Columbus. And I think ideally it’ll bring together people from all over Columbus who will want to interact with this piece that will hopefully come to represent Columbus in a great way.”

It’s free to add your visage to As We Are, but even if you’re not interested in being prominently displayed for all Convention Center visitors and motorists on High and Goodale Streets to see, the artwork is gripping and is absolutely worth a trip.

As We Are is located at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, near the intersection of High St. and Goodale St. at the south end of the Short North Arts District.

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