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“The world is as you see it” *

Future probe - a follow-up on the ESE project CARESS exploring the potential for aesthetic resonance of visual environments.

Launched: 1 January 2001

Responsible: Nishan Canagarajah, University of Bristol (UK), Nishan.Canagarajah@bristol.ac.ukPartners: Tony Brooks, Personics/CAVI (DK), Stefan Hasselblad, Landskrona Kommun (S), Ron Laborde, Bristol University (UK).

Severely handicapped children, such as those worked with in the CARESS project, are denied to a large extent the experience of movement. This includes a denial of all that follows from this including the ability to approach, reach out, discover, manipulate and make sense of the world around us.

The world of sound, fortunately, is as accessible and approachable to these children as to anyone else, which has enabled CARESS (Creating Aesthetically Resonant EnvironmentS in Sound) to explore the enjoyment and benefits the children can derive from immersion in a sonic environment. The simple question we wish to answer in this probe is:

Can immersion in a visual environment hold similar potential for such children
in terms of the aesthetic resonance they might derive
from movement within such a visual space?

This is by no means clear to us. Our suspicion through working with such children over many years is that, with care, there is great potential here. But first we need to undertake a small-scale investigation to explore with the children their reaction to the visual technology itself and to the key ideas we have in mind as to its use on their behalf.

If the probe results prove sufficiently encouraging a full proposal can be assembled to develop with such children an immersive environment containing sonic and visual objects that they can reach out and touch, feeling their surface textures (and sonic textures!) and manipulate. Providing an audio-visual space in which special needs children can experience movement as equally un-handicapped partners in such explorations as the rest of us.

We would envisage a number of new developments in immersive virtual reality or cave settings providing movement and enhanced multi-modal interaction techniques for such children. Parallel research would lay the foundation for creating intelligent sonic environments or sonic compositions based on movement. This coupled with advances in gesture recognition would extend the capabilities towards more creative multi-modal immersive environments where special needs users will have the potential to become the creators of their own aesthetic environment.

See video showing a five year old disabled boy who controls the movement of a virtual space ship through the gestures of his head in the Virtual Interactive Space (VIS) which is created by using the PERSONICS sensor system - see www.personics.net.

Video recorded at CAVI (Center for Advanced Visualisation and Interactivity), Aarhus University research Park, Denmark. Set up in CAVI by PERSONICS development team, Tony Brooks, Christopher Sorensen, Mikkel Thormod, Stefan Hasselblad & CAVI team. Thanks to the CAVI team and the children and staff from Fenrishus Day Center, Aarhus, Denmark.

* The title of our probe is a quote from ancient Indian scripture by the Yoga teacher Sage Vasishtha translated from Sanskrit by Swami Venkateshananda in Yoga Vasishtha 1984. [top]

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