s q u i d s o u p . o r g


art, research, play and immersive experience

Ocean of Light – Surface – Kinetica 2010

We have just emerged from six days in a black box at the Kinetica Art Fair, nurturing Surface, the first project on the Ocean of Light 3D LED grid. It was an intense period, with apparently some 10,000 people passing through in three days.

Surface is a responsive virtual eco-system that occupies physical space.  It uses a room-sized 3D grid of individually addressable points of light to simulate movement in physical space. The space is dominated by a surface – the boundary between two fluid virtual materials.  The materials are affected by sound – nearby noises create waves that ripple across the surface.  The surface is, however, unstable: the turbulence caused by noise also triggers luminous blasts. Abstract insect-like autonomous agents, aware of their surroundings, also navigate and negotiate the environment and the surface.  The result is a series of interconnected spaces and environments, overlapping physical and virtual spaces that coexist and are aware of each other.

For us, it was also an intense learning experience.  The first outing for the Ocean of Light, a hardware project supported by the Technology Strategy Board, was a litmus test for whether this kind of 3D visuals work on the uninitiated – whether people “get it”. It seems that they do – responses were very positive. We’ve also had a lot of ideas – our own and suggested by others – about future directions and options.

Press coverage included this on BBC News and this on the Daily Telegraph.

The images here are taken from a forthcoming documentary on the project by James Lane – details to follow.

Bains Numeriques and more…

We had an enjoyable and interesting time at Enghien-les-Bains for the Bains Numeriques festival, where we showed three versions of Ghosts, and new piece Discontinuum.  Many thanks to Emmanuel, Celine and all at body>data>space.

Diiscontinuum at Eglise St Joseph

Discontinuum was part re-developed in situ, as the piece was positioned inside the church of St Joseph, and we felt it needed to reflect on and respond to the space more.  Live footage from a hidden webcam was mixed with static imagery taken from the stained glass windows in the church; the brilliant colours of the stained glass becoming reproduced within the NOVA cube.  More documentation soon…


In addition to the usual festival goers, we had a lot of interest from the church-going community – rare access to a completely different audience, whose responses were surprisingly positive (at least once the fact that the piece was a reflection on the place was understood).

Discontinuum has become an evocation of place as well as an exploration of the visual possibilities of extruding live imagery through space and across time.  ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)/horao GmbH (who designed and built the NOVA)  are planning to show a version of Discontinuum in Zurich; evoking another place (or idea) will be an interesting development for the project.

Ghosts worked well inside the Mediatheque George Sand, using a tryptich of plasma screens to good effect, the three screens in various states of legibility, and reacting immediately and simultaneously to text input.

ghosts tryptich at enghien

On other fronts, preparations are underway for ISEA 2009.  The exhibition starts on 7th August at Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast, and runs through to the end of the ISEA conference on 30th August.  The Stealth project should be running throughout.

Also looks like we’ll be showing Glowing Pathfinder Bugs at the onedotzero festival (South Bank, London) in September – if you have a design week subscription see this from the mouth of the man himself 🙂


A 3D visual deconstruction of time and space. Work in progress.

A camera feed is passed through physical space over time, creating imagery that contains fragments from a range of times simultaneously. Unlike a 2D image taken over a long duration – which would essentially be a blur – the time is ordered in the third dimension, as if time was flowing in a particular direction.

Seen from ahead, the image is superimposed on itself, similar to its 2D counterpart, but from other angles, the flow of time through space can clearly be seen. And from behind, time slowly fades away into the distance.

The project builds on ideas first implemented in squidsoup’s Freq2 – www.squidsoup.org/freq2

Discontinuum is a Squidsoup project, in collaboration with ETHZ and horao GmbH.

www.squidsoup.org www.nova.ethz.ch www.horao.biz

Stealth Project – update

The website is live at www.squidsoup.org/stealth – it includes this video documentation:

Stealth at the V&A

The Stealth Project, a 3 dimensional take on the classic game Connect 4 and inspired by the Cold War Modern exhibition, was premiered on 31 October at the Gamble Room, V&A, London. The project is a Squidsoup collaboration with Horao GmbH / ETHZ and uses the NOVA 3D LED grid.

Flickr slideshow here.

NOVA – visuals in 3D

Three days in Zurich experimenting with NOVA, a 3D LED grid system developed by ETHZ (Swiss Institute of Technology). Very interesting to see what works and what doesn’t. These images do not do the system justice: beside being 2D representations of a 3D visual, they don’t fully convey the shimmering beauty of NOVA, especially in the dark.

The ‘Baby NOVA’ is a 10x10x10 grid; this one was at Technopark, Zurich. The large one is a 50x50x10 grid, and is publicly viewable at Zurich Central Station.

Preliminary video rushes:

More images and slideshow available here.

NOVA websites: www.nova.ethz.ch and www.horao.biz

We tried out a range of effects and ideas; mainly randomness, dynamic 3D geometry, and a combination of 2D and 3D imagery; using the 3D grid to represent 2D imagery (mainly from a webcam in these experiments), but using all of the voxels/LEDs,and focusing on a single ‘sweet-spot’. The image is surprisingly clear from one viewpoint, but abstracted from any other position.

The large NOVA at the Central Station is relatively flat, and too high up for best results, but sweet-spot visuals and 3D geometries do still work, and have an extraordinary not-quite-there effect, as though they inhabit physical space yet are not there…