Interactive SCAD mural makes tennis come alive at Atlanta Open
On the south wall of the sprawling Atlanta Open Stadium Court stands a 12-foot-by-9-foot mural displaying a QR code. After scanning, tennis fans are instructed to lift up their phones as spectators respectfully try not to get in the way of what looks like someone taking photos of the tennis-themed mural.
Not the case. They are instead watching dozens of peach-colored tennis balls (inspired by the tournament’s logo) dance around their phone screens. They are also listening to crowd noises and tennis words like “Deuce,” “Advantage,” and “Love” that only they can hear.
What Atlanta Open fans are experiencing is digital magic thanks to the talents of student artists from nearby Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta.
The experience, called “ACE IT ATL!,” was produced by SCAD Atlanta students to provide fans just one more unique experience at this week’s tournament.
There is a strong connection between the city’s ATP Tour 250 event and the local campus of the world-renowned art college, where men’s and women’s tennis teams are among the school’s host of intercollegiate teams. A SCAD Atlanta varsity tennis player even contributed his voice to the tennis-themed installation.
Paul Stonick is Vice President of SCADpro, the school’s in-house design, research and innovation studio. He said planning on the project began when Peter Lebedevs, GF Sports and Entertainment Executive Vice President and Tournament Director, saw a similar exhibit in Phipps Plaza.
“Peter was confident in us and excited about the possibility for collaboration,” Stonick said. “Plus, when you’re at the Atlanta Open, he was always able to look across the highway and see our billboard. Peter visited the SCAD Atlanta campus in June, and he loved the concept that showed tennis balls flying in the air and being immersed in the mural. So, we added on the romance of audio as well with key points during and scoring of the match. What we wanted was to bring fans into the experience.”
While the SCAD Pro team likes to have a few months to make an interactive mural, they knocked out three versions and got the final project completed in only two weeks. Project lead was Associate Chair of Fine Art Kent Knowles and artists Christian Solis, Grace Martin and Madelyn Homan, who is a tennis alumna.
Men’s tennis player Valentino Capararo talked about doing the voiceover. “It was great to share this moment with the guys and to be in the DMC to record the voice,” Capararo said. ”It was a very good experience for me.”
Even though the final project contains only a few words from Capararo, he spent an hour in the studio.
Men’s and women’s tennis coach Menford Owusu added, “We were able to share ideas and the idea of the ball calling and the scoring and the supporters cheering on and everything. And we just filled in and provided the voices to make it unique.”
In addition to raising SCAD Atlanta’s profile in the city, Owusu was also excited about the possibility of drawing prospective players to the team.
“They will learn about the amazing majors and all the various unique facets that we offer,” Owusu said. “So, we hope to get the word out for people to actually see what SCAD is all about.”
Another connection to the college was made with the Atlanta Youth Tennis & Education Foundation (AYTEF), affiliated with USTA Atlanta. SCAD worked on the foundation’s T-shirt design to sell as a fundraiser.
AYTEF Executive Director Kirsten Robles said, "We are immensely grateful to the talented students of SCAD for their exceptional contribution in designing this t-shirt for the tournament. With all proceeds going directly to the Atlanta Youth Tennis and Education Foundation, this collaboration is a shining example of how the power of art and education can be harnessed to transform lives and pave the way for a brighter future for our youth."