Blog Post

HASTAC@CHAT: The Bathysphere interactive art installation

This week, UNC is hosting the wonderful CHAT (Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology) festival, and there is an amazing amount to see and hear. The one drawback to having the festival on my own campus is that my obligations are not hundreds of miles away--but I did make it out tonight for the CHAT art walk and stumbled onto some excellent work.

Our first stop of the evening was at Gerrard Hall, where there is an art installation called the Bathysphere. The work is the brainchild of two UNC professors, Francesca Talenti of the Communication Studies department and Greg Welch of Computer Science, but has been built with a number of students and other collaborators.

The Bathysphere is billed as "an underwater opera and an interactive game: a musical narrative in which the audience triggers events." The work is immersive and quite pleasant as you are surrounded by the soft blue tones of a simulated underwater environment. Therein, sea creatures wander about seemingly at random as a minimalistic soundtrack plays in the background. The projections seem random, that is, until you see your fellow audience members holding and waving about strange objects.

The work is interactive: visitors control the digital sea creatures by moving around objects with sensors on them: an umbrella, a fishing pole, a ball. It's really quite playful and amusing; check out the video for a better idea of what it's like. There's more on the idea behind the project, including its very interesting technical details, in the links below.

http://www.chatfestival2010.com/bathysphere.html

http://gazette.unc.edu/archives/10jan13/file.2.html

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1 comment

The video is really great. I am always interested in artists who find new ways of encorporating objects as sensor and input devices. In most cases, the viewer's (or participant) body becomes the device to change something within the system. There seems to be a common way of performing this task:

 

INPUT DEVICE---> COMPUTER STUFF ---> OUTPUT DEVICE

OR

OUTPUT DEVICE---> COMPUTER STUFF --->INPUT DEVICE

 

Interactive art often gets trapped into this reflexive system. If you know of any projects that break out of this, please let me know!

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