YORK company Pilot Theatre never rest in their quest to innovate the art of performance, and the latest reward has come with the announcement that their 5Circles Project will feature in the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London.

“This is a great achievement for Pilot and we’re delighted to be a part of the London 2012 Inspire Programme,” says artistic director Marcus Romer.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in the cultural sector and 5Circles is a project that we’re immensely proud of. This recognition will help us develop the project and we aim to bring it to as wide an audience as possible.”

Pilot, the company-in-residence at York Theatre Royal, has linked up with York digital artists KMA to create the free, interactive outdoor 5Cirles illuminations, whose debut at St Sampson’s Square from today until Sunday forms part of the 2009 Illuminating York festival.

The festival project in York will be the pilot for 5Circles in Yorkshire, where further Pilot/KMA projects will follow in Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Hull.

“5Circles is a radical, imaginative and beautiful global project that aims to fundamentally transform the relationship between artist, performer and spectator in urban public art,” says Marcus.

This weekend’s pilot event will combine illuminations created by thermal imaging with new musical pieces by Sandy Nuttgens & Johnny Kalsi, Knavesmire Primary School, David Atherton and The Upfaders Group, a music creation group from outside the formal education system.

For three nights, from 7pm to 10pm, the interactive feast of colour, light and sound will be projected from a cherry picker on to the pavement below in St Sampson’s Square.

“So, outside The Three Cranes, we now have a fourth crane!” says Marcus. “When it lifts into the air, the projector and the thermal imaging camera will be 135ft above the ground.”

Here is where you will come into play, because the thermal-imaging camera responds to the body heat of anyone in its range, your digital footprints duly turning St Sampson’s Square into an interactive playground.

“Spectators influence the piece of art by using their movement to make visual creations with light from the projector,” says Marcus. “So every time a piece of music is played, there’s always a unique pattern of light created from people connecting with each other’s body heat in the space, depending on where they are standing or moving.”

Such is Pilot’s belief in spreading their work far and wide, beyond the boundaries of its immediate performance space, that the 5Circles project will be streamed online on pilot-theatre.tv and tweeted on Twitter on pilot_theatre.com

Developed by Pilot with Kit Monkman, the combination of thermal imaging, body heat and light will be integrated into Pilot’s multi-media theatre and performance work in future. “It’s just so intuitively interactively engaging,” says the boundlessly enthusiastic Marcus. “It’s different from the night-vision thermal imaging used by the Army, because it uses it creatively. It’s not about killing people on battlefields but creativity.

“So, when we do our Manga version of Romeo And Juliet next year, starting in York, we’ll be working with KMA to push the boundaries of what is possible in theatre.

“KMA are genuinely stretching the possibilities of innovation in illumination, and as creative artists this is very exciting for Pilot because we can try out things in York that have never been done before.”