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You too can be a Lowry stick-person

Go shopping or sight-seeing in Manchester, and Salford University can make you part of art history

Greater Manchester's profiteering from its dysfunctional but talented son L S Lowry continues apace. This weekend, you could end up being turned into a stick person while shopping or sight-seeing in Piccadilly Gardens.

Salford University, which is an extremely hi-tech centre pioneering lots of clever digital things, is staging the exercise to mark the opening of its new building at MediaCityUK on Salford Quays.

Two Manchester artists, Alastair Eilbeck and James Bailey, have been commissioned to marry Lowry's painting of the gardens in 1954 to cameras equipped with stuff called 'motion capture technology'. The effect is to turn someone such as myself, bumbling along in a comfortable way with my shopping bags, into an authentic stick person.

This will then be screened at on a large projection at MediaCityUK for everyone to laugh at, sorry admire, in a 're-imagining of Lowry's artwork with moving characters walking through the painted version of Piccadilly Gardens.' This sounds terrific and Alexandra King, Piccadilly Partnership Director at CityCo, Manchester's city centre management company, thinks everyone will agree. She says:

It's great to be involved with this innovative project which brings a much-loved painting of a familiar public space to life. We hope visitors will take part and have the image of themselves in the modern day gardens beamed over to the Salford screen. Working with the University of Salford and Metrolink, we'll be able to demonstrate just how close Piccadilly is to MediaCityUK.

Nervous BBC relocaters, take note. There are shops etc up here. Actually, there's an entire mall on the quays plus the Lowry and a bridge to Imperial War Museum North.

Nobody has to take part in the exercise if they are shy or with someone that they shouldn't be with, but it sounds intriguingly clever. The artists explain that:

Motion sensor cameras set up in front of canvases in Piccadilly Gardens and at MediaCityUK will film members of the public moving and, in real time, will reproduce their movements in a digital Lowry figure. In Piccadilly Gardens, the Gardens themselves will be the backdrop to the moving figures while over at MediaCityUK, characters from Piccadilly Gardens and MediaCityUK will be combined and integrated into a digital projection of Lowry's Piccadilly Gardens painting on a screen at the University's new facility.

Each of the animated figures will be based on actual people from some of Lowry's most famous paintings, including The Lying Man, The Cripples and A Day Out at the Prom, all produced by Lowry around the similar period to Piccadilly Gardens. Wirral illustrator Maria Pearson has painted each of the characters from four different views so they can be shown from differing angles on screen when reacting to the movements of visitors.

Alastair says:

The effect of the moving figures in the painting will be similar to split tin puppets, which I think will capture the spirit of Lowry and I hope it's an interpretation of his work of which he would have approved.

I'm sure he would.

The day's celebrations, which feature other joys, run from 10.30am-5.30pm tomorrow, Saturday 12 November, with free tram travel from Piccadilly Gardens and Eccles to the event, plus a free Salford QuaysLink bus service from Salford Crescent railway station and Salford Shopping City.

You can also watch the uni's promotional film above. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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