DUMBO Arts Festival turns festival goers into superheroes

Video installation has festival goers flying

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Why play video games on your TV when you can play it on a skyscraper?

The DUMBO Arts Festival will have plenty of free art on display, but no work is likely to match the interactive “Superhero” display for sheer grandiosity, which gives festival-goers the opportunity to shoot laser beams and soar like Superman across the face of an historic warehouse using a video game console add-on.

“It uses a souped-up version of the Kinect camera to turn the Empire Stores facade into a playing field for two superheroes,” said Frank Riley, executive producer of the DUMBO Arts Festival. “Essentially, the concept is pretty great.”

Players will be able to fly, shrink, grow in size, climb, and project beams of light across the face of one of Main Street’s oldest buildings as they live out their super-powered fantasies using technology that was first demonstrated in Madrid, Spain during another art festival.

However, New Yorkers may acquire some extra, never-before-seen powers, planners say.

“There’s a couple other powers they’re developing, which we’re hoping will be read for the show,” said Riley.

It’s based on video games, but don’t expect any button-mashing. Instead, festival patrons can use gestures and body movement to determine where they fly and what they shoot.

“That’s the point of using the cameras. Once your body is run through the system, then a motion of your hand or your arm, or a movement of your torso actually determines the movement that you’ll make,” Riley said.

DUMBO Arts Festival curator Lisa Kim said the Nintendo Wii has got nothing on this.

“I owned a Wii at one point and I did the bowling thing,” said Kim. “But what the artists are doing is adding this really incredible bend to people have seen in these types of games.”

Furthermore, Kim says that the “Superhero” display has opened up a world of possibilities for building-based game play.

“I’ve been told they’ll be doing something where you can control a paint bucket and virtually paint the building,” Kim said.

Best of all about being a super hero — it’s all free!

“If you were to go to a gaming center everybody would charge you,” said Kim. “This is not a commercial art fair, it’s a festival, and it allows artists to showcase their work in a unique setting without commercial constraints.”

Superhero at DUMBO Arts Festival (DUMBO betw. the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, and waterfront, Sept. 28–30, Fri. 6 pm–9pm, Sat. 12 pm–9 pm, Sun. 12 pm–6 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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