RALEIGH — Self-titled geeks offered a digital alternative to the street art that monopolized Fayetteville Street on Saturday at SPARKcon, downtown Raleigh's street festival to celebrate the arts.
It wasn't hard to see the parallels between the traditional street painting and the technological spinoff.
Outside: 600-some drawings, chalked on the asphalt in blazing colors. First rule of etiquette: Don't step on it.
Inside: One very large interactive video projection on the floor, a moving picture. Geek rule: Step all over it, please.
Technology demos, collectively called geekSPARK, are a new feature at SPARKcon, now in its sixth year.
The most prominent of these digital designs was an ocean-themed game that required participants to step all over the ground-level screen to keep the images from fading.
Children spent a good 15 minutes at a time moving all over the oversized horizontal touch-screen, like Lilliputians dancing on an iPad as big as a king-size bed. They activated images with their feet and hands and entire bodies, oblivious to whomever was watching.
Adults joined in, gingerly at first, then gliding all over the screen in interactive abandon. Contact with the screen spawned little sea creatures.
"I love it," said Debbie Kulowitch, a grownup from Durham. "I want to keep these little guys alive."
It was just one of many SPARKcon subcultures on display Saturday: street painters, crafters, acrobats, comedians, dancers, filmmakers, musicians, poets, actors and graffiti artists. They continue their bazaar today, ending with evening concerts at local bars.
SPARKcon organizers hope for a boost in attendance today with balmier weather in the forecast after a damp and overcast Saturday made Raleigh look and feel like Seattle.
Someday, projecting images on the ground may have practical applications in department stores or in emergency planning or who knows what. Today, however, it's an offbeat experiment, not cluttered with utilitarian overtones.
"For us geeks, this is our form of art," said John Kaplan, a freelance video editor and geekSPARK organizer.
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