Mixing Realities with Plant-Human-Data

At the foundation of my practice, as an Indigenous artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, I am inspired by the concepts of ‘mauri’ and ‘wairua’: that all things in the universe have their own, agentially situated, life forces. Through the Contact projects, since 2017, I have been exploring performative techniques for combining gestural, computer vision, tactile, and sonic instruments to create a different mode of Mixed Reality (MR) from the ‘clear window’ paradigm so often explored. Thinking with flows of signal and noise, emanating from plants, the human body,and data systems, resonates with ‘mauri’. This research investigates potential for multimodal performance in mixed reality (MR), using an experimental technical set-up that combines of the HTC Vive with a Leap Motion mount, the MIDI Sprout interface for sensing the bio-electrical signals of plants, transposed to visual data in Touch Designer, and Unity 3D for generating digital augments. This research develops techniques for affectively co-composing with expressive conjunctions of augmented materials (both digital and organic), including: recursive strategies for modulating digital augments; amplifications of bio-electrical data from plants to produce augmented audio; choreographing hand micro-gestures in tactile and signaletic connections with both augments and plants; and passing augments through the Leap Motion interface in a head mounted configuration. The Contact Projects propose a new method, technique, and practices for performing with mixed reality environments and technologies, informed by embodiment and electro acoustics, and critically underscored by new materialism and posthumanism.

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Image credit: Artist Suzon Fuks (Founder of Water Wheel) explores the Contact/Sense prototype at SIGGRAPH Asia, November 17-20, BCEC 2019.

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Image credit: Rewa Wright, performance with gestural data and plant bio-electrical signals, at the BCEC Brisbane.

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