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Kristin McWharter


"WAVE" is a media installation that features a kinetic projector that interacts with a real time crowd simulation performing emergent wave behavior.

The Wave, references the behavior ritual often observed in stadiums featuring large crowds such as those that gather during sporting events where individuals follow a sequence of standing up, throwing their arms up into the air, and sitting down synchronized with the movements of other individuals in close proximity to them. The result is an undulating visual pattern that sweeps across crowd.

Using experimental software and hardware systems, the work 'WAVE' explores the emergent phenomena of human crowd behavior and their associated points of ignition, provocation, and synchronization. The artwork uses the spectacles of media installation to explore the powerful forces that cause people to move together and the poetics of where humans to behave as machine and machines appear to behave as human. The work deals with the perception of collective action, the potential for connection, and the inevitability of distortion. What emerges is a sensory and celebratory swell of energy that sweeps us through virtual and physical space in a common direction.


Kristin McWharter (b. 1990) is an artist working in immersive media and games to interrogate the relationship between competition and intimacy. Her software installations and media performances incorporate experimental technologies and playful interaction to speculate upon new social behaviors. Her work conjoins viewers within immersive media installations that critically fuse folk games within virtual and augmented worlds. Inspired by 20th century game narratives, collective decision making, and emerging digital technologies, her work positions game mechanics (rules) as metaphors that challenge our relationships to affection and competitive drive. Her work has been exhibited at The Hammer Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center, Ars Electronica, Museo Altillo Beni, and FILE Festival among others. McWharter received her MFA from UCLA in Design Media Arts and is currently an Assistant Professor in Art & Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.