Plants, coal and pixels

In September 2020, we were privileged to develop an interactive space for the Ars Electronica “ In Kepler’s Garden” Mozilla Hubs network, commissioned by Ars Electronica Newcastle Garden. A plan was hatched for an interactive network of installation and performance spaces, which became the FASTlab Performance Experiment, featuring the art and sound of 13 artists from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The network was named in honour of our sponsor at the time, the lab I work in at University of Newcastle. Thanks for the encouragement and support on this project Profs Paul Egglestone and Mario Minichiello. More on FASTlab here: https://fastlab.soci.org.au/

Alison’s room ‘Cherry Blossom Sphere’s led the network, and was the celestial entry point to 4 room extended reality world that folded together living plants, coal, and experimental art. Alison has more on her blog here: https://alisonbennett.net/portfolio/2020/

Where to now?

Wright & Howden have a new piece, under development, called Signaletic Forest, a hybrid virtual-physical work linking together our virtual room, the Coal Pit, with a physical installation and performance space. Some initial speculative images of screen elements of the work are below, to be utilised in our live performances with plants, whose signals we pass through Touch Designer. These digital images are generated by passing video of our previous performances with plants (such as this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZh-I8tV3YE) through a machine learning network designed to recognise faces. We then recompose the video in Touch Designer, using sound to activate an emergent geometry.

the Coal Pit: a virtual room network for art and environmental discourse

It’s a work in progress and new photogrammetry in underway, but if you like construction sites you can take a walk through the Coal Pit here: https://hubs.mozilla.com/DWRiE9g

As a virtual environment, The Coal Pit is designed around the theme of an imaginary future where empty holes (left behind as scars on the land by the extraction of coal), become spaces for the making and creation of art. Featuring point cloud photogrammetry of geological features, as well as video and sonic media, this environment is designed to house conversations about coal and climate catastrophe. Participants enter the worlds as modelled avatars and are able to interact using audio, streaming and digital interactions. Collaborating with colleagues from environmental science, First Nations communities, sonic arts, data visualisation and environmental posthumanities, Wright and Howden will host talks in the Coal Pit harnessing empirical and qualitative knowledge and as well as research-based speculations that contribute to discourse around coal, plant consciousness, environment, posthumanities, nonhuman life, and climate catastrophe.

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