Ian Heisters Consulting

Ian Heisters advises a range of non-profits, companies, institutions, and independent artists on subjects relating to his artistic research. His expertise encompasses mixed reality, sensing systems, digital media, data visualization, and custom digital systems for performances and installations. Hire him!

Day for Night

May, 2018

A permanent digital public art piece atop the tallest building west of the Missippi.

Working with Jim Campbell, Day for Night is a permanent installation located at the crown of the 1,070 foot Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. The exterior of the top six floors of the tower are softly illuminated with 11,000 LEDs displaying moving imagery recorded from around San Francisco during the preceding day. The imagery displayed is automatically updated on a daily basis, making the installation a reflection of the constantly changing city.

For Day for Night I wrote custom computer vision software that continually analyzes video footage from several live cameras placed throughout San Francisco. The analysis identifies aesthetically pleasing and varied clips of video: interesting cloud formations, the movement of waves, etc. The results of the analysis are fed to composition software that autonomously edits the footage to be displayed on the tower between sunset and sunrise. The analysis software features a flexible node-based configuration that allows Jim to easily setup new camera feeds and tweak the analysis criteria to support his developing aesthetic requirements.



March, 2015

An open source toy that lets anyone play with Jackson Pollock’s painting technique by splattering paint on a digital canvas.

Splatter is an open source toy that allows users to splatter paint on a digital canvas. Qualities of the paint like color, texture, and physics are simulated based on the paint used in Jackson Pollock’s Convergence.

The toy is built to work both in web browsers and touch devices, and was installed by Crystal Bridges Museum as part of their Van Gogh to Rothko exhibition in Spring 2015.

This project was done for Stamen as an update to their original version.

Center for New Music Community Visualization

February, 2014

An abstract representation of the C4NM community’s evolution over time, from inception to the present day.

The Center for New Music (C4NM) is an organization and space devoted to supporting the new music community in San Francisco. Their work is built upon the friendships, collaborations, and meetings of the composers, performers, producers, presenters, teachers, students, listeners, scholars, advocates, engineers, curators, critics, and organizers that involve themselves with their programs. The fabric of C4NM is woven with threads of personal relationships.

This data visualization shows an abstract representation of the evolution of C4NM’s community over time, from its inception by Adam Fong and Brent Miller to the present day. The visualization provides a basic visual impression of the community’s evolution and complex interdependencies, while also encoding extensive information about the community for the viewer to investigate.

The visualization utilizes the metaphor of a tree. Each leaf represents a single member of the C4NM community and encodes data about that person: their name, the nature of their involvement with C4NM, and where they fit in C4NM’s chronology. Every leaf, in turn, influences the shapes of the leaves that follow it. Some members’ Facebook data is reappropriated in order to display the personal relationships between community members and how these relationships inform the overall structure of the community.

Reunion Tower Digital Installations

September, 2013

An interactive panorama atop one of Dallas’ most iconic towers.

An icon of the Dallas skyline since the seventies, Reunion Tower was ready for a refresh. The original developers had a vision to turn it into a thoroughly modern and world-class destination, a treat for Dallas residents and visitors alike. Gensler was tasked with the interior redesign, and partnered with Stimulant to help realize their vision for a digitally-enhanced, interactive environment.

As the crown jewel of the 560-foot-tall tower is a 360-degree view of Dallas from high above the city, our design credo was to “enhance visitors’ view.” Gensler drew inspiration from the geodesic dome that envelops the tower, invoking a highly-geometric design language. The GeO-Deck is the first stop up the tower, where visitors can get their first taste of the wide expanse of the Texas landscape. Stimulant designed and developed a reactive and interactive experience for the GeO-Deck called the Halo, a graceful arch of 15 displays, almost 60 feet wide each. There are two Halos on the GeO-Deck allowing for up to 30 concurrent usage sessions. The entire experience is powered by a custom 3D engine, featuring real-time generative backgrounds that respond to both touch and movement throughout the space. All 15 displays in each Halo are seamlessly linked together to create a massive 60-foot-wide interactive surface, while simultaneously allowing individual exploration of content. A variety of “apps” provide visitors with interactive 3D models and photos of Dallas landmarks, zoomable interactive gigapixel photographic panoramas of the view out any window, control of HD cameras mounted outside the tower for exploring the city in detail, custom-curated maps, a unique video about the JFK assassination (which occurred hundreds of yards from the tower), and more. Each display is calibrated for its unique position around the circumference of the floor and provides an experience tailored to its particular orientation, though all content is available from any station.

From Stimulant

On this project, I helped to build the Node.js cluster server that controlled the installation, built the integration and interface for the HD cameras, built a custom HD video player for static videos, and built a photographic panorama that allowed the user to easily and intuitively explore a gigapixel image of the Dallas skyline.

This project was a collaboration with the amazing team over at Stimulant.


August, 2013

A 70-foot long interactive installation projecting onto multiple layers of custom glazed and sandblasted glass.

Completed for Camille Utterback, Flourish is a 70-foot long site-specific artwork commissioned by the Liberty Mutual Group for an executive corridor in the corporation’s Boston headquarters. This unique piece combines Camille’s signature interactive installation work with a new display method – projection onto multiple layers of custom glazed and sandblasted glass. The result is a work that moves and breathes, alongside its human interactors.

My role in this project was to design and develop a custom overhead person-tracking solution that allowed Camille and collaborator Michelle Higa Fox to generate their animations.

Photos by Charles Mayer Photography.

Aurora Organ


An interactive light installation developed with Camille Utterback.

Six columns of light hang in an atrium, surrounded by a mezzanine with a glowing railing. When passers-by touch the railing, its color flows into the corresponding column where it plays with the light added by other users – an effect created by a series of algorithms modeling physics and decision making

Read more on Camille’s website.