Reproduction is a mixed reality installation using fully immersive projection that investigates the flow of data between the material world and synthetic worlds, through the creation of a persistent realtime 3D audiovisual environment populated with agent entities that evolve over the duration of the exhibition in response to audience presence and flows of data sourced from surrounding locales.
Reproduction fills a gallery space with an immersive environment that an audience can navigate through and experience as it evolves. Reproduction is created in a realtime 3D engine, populating a virtual environment with artificially intelligent virtual organisms. These organisms, subject to genetic algorithms, evolve and interact with each other over the course of the exhibition, creating a living virtual ecosystem that intersects with the material world via motion capture and data feeds. The organisms substitute conventional genetic algorithms such as strength and health for audiovisual parameters like colour, opacity, melody, rhythm, harmony and timbre. They then spend the duration of the exhibition living, breeding, feeding (off each other and the data feeds from the outside world, including audience interaction) and singing within the gallery.
A computer, outside the gallery space, feeds a warp-mapped video feed of the virtual environment to the projector situated at one end of the gallery. The projection, reflected off the hemispherical mirror, fills the entire gallery. This technique was developed by Adam Nash and John McCormick (Wild System) during an Australia Council Connections Residency in 2009, and then refined during an Ars Electronica FutureLab residency, Austria, in 2010, and subsequently at a residency in Neutral Ground Gallery, Saskatchewan, Canda in 2010. The technique results in an amazingly immersive audiovisual experience that transforms both the space itself and those interacting with it.
Speakers situated in the corners, along with a subwoofer, deliver an immersive sound field emerging from the evolving virtual environment. Motion capture equipment installed in the gallery responds to the presence of people within in the gallery space and affects the virtual environment accordingly, establishing a symbiotic relationship between the virtual environment and the material gallery space. Often referred to as mixed- reality, such relationships “represent sites of alterity where material and incorporeal forces will continue to engender further connection and differentiation” (Munster, 2006, 20). A trackball mounted on a plinth to one side allows visitors to also navigate the environment in a more familiar human/computer interaction style.
The result is a truly interactive, genuinely “mixed-reality”, evolving, immersive, audiovisual experience – a symbiotic network of affect between the virtual and the material environment where the visitors to the gallery contribute to the evolution of the work in a sophisticated manner that transcends simple notions of interactivity in order to challenge and extend our understanding of the nature of data and its implications in the contemporary material world.
Munster, A. Materializing New Media: embodiment in information aesthetics. New Hampshire: University Press of New England. 2006.