Glowing Pathfinder Bugs is an interactive art project primarily aimed at children and created by the digital arts group Squidsoup. It uses projection to visualize virtual bugs on a real sandpit. The bugs are aware of their surroundings and respond to its form in their vicinity. By altering the topography of the sand, participants affect the bugs' environment in real time, facilitating direct communication between them and computer-generated creatures.
This highly malleable and tactile physical environment lets us define and carve out the landscape in which the creatures exist in real time. Thus, virtual creatures and real people coexist and communicate through a shared tactile environment. Participants can use natural modes of play, kinesthetic intelligence, and their sense of tactility to collaboratively interact with creatures inhabiting a hybrid parallel world.
This paper describes the project and analyzes how children in particular respond to the experience; it looks at the types of physical formations that tend to be built and notes how children instinctively anthropomorphize the bugs, treating projected imagery as living creatures — though with a ludic twist.