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

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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.

Aerogel experiments

We tried crossing two beams of light inside a block of aerogel, thinking it might somehow produce a brighter point in 3D space.  It doesn’t.  However, some beguiling effects can be obtained, in 2D and in 3D, using two projections onto a block of aerogel.

Perhaps reminiscent of dappled sunlight and silhouettes of passing strangers, this is actually two projections of Outtake – a version of Ghosts from 2003 – from different angles onto a small block of aerogel.

Also – rendering of the Mac dock into 3 dimensions

dock01

Miniature mockup adding realtime shadows

model-aerogel-ghosts outtake

Still of Outtake projected onto aerogel.

aerogel-outtake

Aerogel supplied by Airglass AB

Solid light


… exploring the magnificent light properties of Aerogel (see earlier post here). This is a weird and wonderful substance. Projecting through it is akin to projecting in a smoke-filled environment, but it’s a solid space. These images don’t do the physical reality justice. More soon.

3D LED grids

One way to control light in 3 dimensions is to put loads of lights in a space and control each light. I’ve always loved this idea ever since seeing the work of Jim Campbell. Although not 3D, his use of low resolution 2D grids of lights is highly evocative and beautiful.

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=vONC5FJ3XYg&feature=related]

Taking it into 3D causes headaches mainly because of the numbers of lights/LEDs involved. A 32×24 2D grid needs 768 lights; a 32x24x24 3D grid needs 18,432. Search 3D grid in Youtube and you get anything from 3x3x3 up to, currently, 16 cubed.

A nice example of a larger cube – apparently modular – is by James Clar

James Clar modular grid

Seekway also make a 16x16x16 grid – see here.

NOVA, developed by the Swiss Institute of Technology, is an interesting one. A grid of LED clusters, 10cm apart and in 3cm spheres, in 10x10x10 modules.

There’s a 50x50x10 module at Zurich Central station.

NOVA site here

Image courtesy of this site

UVA have played with a more abstract notion of this idea with ‘Volume’:

as have Jason Bruges Studios with ‘Untitled Chandelier’:

Jason Bruges Untitled Chandelier

and finally, also very nice is the work of Erwin Redl – this is his project Matrix II