The Wondering Woods


Sensor Mote Swarm by Shelly Farnham

Our basic collaborative framework is to provide an overarching experiential design theme and then to recruit artists, technologists, scientists, and designers to take on aspects of that theme, playing with technologically-infused, sensing, interactive and self-illuminated organic objects or sculptural forest elements.  For 2017 we will focus our group efforts around the “Wondering Woods” theme.

More About the Design Theme

Luminous Garden Layout Mockup

Wondering Woods Layout with Three Eco-areas:  Field, Woods, and River

Our overarching experiential design theme is “The Wondering Woods: Taking a Walk through a Sensing, Conscious Forest”.  Through interactive, sensing, self-illuminated, and data-driven projects we seek to provide participants with the feeling of being transported into a living, conscious forest.

We will encourage people’s works to fit into a larger speculative narrative that evokes an awareness of the forest as a living being, with an emergent consciousness comprised of its constituent sensing parts. An important goal of the group installation is to create an immersive journey, where participants feel as if they have just wandered into a children’s book, a nature walk that is reconceived by the imagination as a living organism that senses and responds.  Along the walk, elements will be labeled with interpretive site placards in the style of arboretums.

To get get an idea of what this is all about, please see our slideshow from last years’ theme “The Luminous Garden”:


Mushrooms by Briar Bates

 Conceptual Background for Collaboration

A primary goal of Electric Sky is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration through larger group installations.   Last year, with the Luminous Garden we had 19 participating projects and over 80 artists, technologists, and designers actively collaborating, learning from each other and creating inspiring works.  We seek to expand people’s conceptions of what it means to do art installations in group shows, which are usually experienced as collections of individual contributions, rather than as one larger collaboration. We also seek to break the boundaries between the artist, the art installation, and the observer by providing an immersive experience.


2017 Call for Supported Participation, Deadline May 1st

We have microgrants and free tickets to support participating creatives!  If interested, please check out our application and submit by May 1st.  Participating artists and technology creatives may include sound, video, performance, landscaping, architectural elements, in addition to visual art, however all projects should incorporate an electronic, sensing, interactive, or self-illuminated components and contribute to the “Wondering Woods” theme.

Opening Night Party

We will host an opening night party at Electric Sky that is open to the public, 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm, Saturday June 10th.  Invite your friends!   (Please note, to spend the night in the campground or otherwise participate in Electric Sky, you need to register for the event.)

About the Organizers

Shelly Farnham is the creative director for this project, and Jeff Larson a lead artist/designer.  See more about the organizers below.  They and other members of their Totally Legit art group will provide the basic design framework, infrastructure, and lighting (including the basic narrative, the path layout, the entry gate, the interpretive placards, electricity, and wifi), and recruit other individuals or art groups to take on specific aspects of the installation.   Their unique interactive technology contribution will be the construction of the entry gate and path with responsive lighting that senses and follows participants on the path.

Shelly Farnham, Creative Director.  Shelly is an artist, technologist, and community organizer.  She is a co-founder of the art group Totally Legit, the Executive Director and founder of the community technology 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Third Place Technologies, and the lead organizer for Electric Sky.  She has a B.A. from Georgetown University double majoring in Fine Art (oil painting) and Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Washington, leading to a career in community technology R&D.  While working as a research scientist in technology research labs in the past fifteen years, including Microsoft Research and Yahoo!, her career as an artist simultaneously evolved to encompass large scale, collaborative installations, many of which incorporate interactive technology, social media, and various forms of self-illumination.  In addition to serving as a creative director for large-scale collaborative art projects, as a community organizer she has played the lead role for many arts organizations, arts fundraising events, art groups, and art exhibitions.  Most recently, her organizing efforts have focused on developing the community of people in the Pacific Northwest at the intersection of art and technology, including: teaching interactive tech at Cornish College of the Arts, organizing the Art and Technology Workshop in collaboration with Microsoft Research, Cornish College of the Arts, and the Stranger Genius Foundation, leading to a paper published at the 2015 International Symposium of Electronic Arts; serving for 5 years as the Dorkbot committee lead; curating art and tech exhibitions including Oscillate, Winter Lights, and People Doing Strange Things with Electricity; forming her art and tech group Totally Legit; organizing a one day art and tech conference called Frayed Wire; and most recently organizing the art and tech weekend campathon, Electric Sky.  Learn more about her career as an artist, and find her arts resume, and portfolio at  Learn about her simultaneous career as a scientist and technologist, and find her CV at biographical-statement/.

Jeff Larson, Lead Artist/Design.  Jeffrey Larson is a Seattle-based artist and illustrator, working primarily for local technology companies. He received a BFA in design from Michigan State University before transplanting to the  Northwest.  Aside from his abstract oil paintings and mixed media collages, Jeffrey is most well- known for his Lighter of the Month Club series, and his collaboration with Skill Shot, Seattle’s pinball  zine.  Websites:, and

Totally Legit (formerly Recreational Light and Magic) is a Seattle-based, interdisciplinary group of artists, technologists, designers, builders, and community organizers who share a passion for collaborative installations at the intersection of art, technology, and the built environments. They have strong ties to the town of Skykomish as the home of their Skywalker Cabin, a creative collaboration retreat space.  Recent projects include Attacks from Mars, a giant pinball machine with interactive lighting, The Skykomish Bridge Project, a public art installation transforming the Skykomish bridge through reactive lighting, and the Zymphonic Wormhole, a giant wormhole structure with reactive lighting and sound, for which they received a grant from Burning Man.  See

Third Place Technologies.  Third Place Technologies is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on exploring new ways to leverage social media, open data, and collective action technologies to empower communities and increase community well-being.  One of their goals is to help foster innovation communities of practice in the Pacific Northwest, including the art and tech and civic tech communities.  Through Shelly and other members of the board of directors, they helped organize the Electric Sky event.  See

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