Following the goals of the eRENA project (electronic Arenas for Culture, Performance, Art and Entertainment) for user embodiment and group Interaction, building real and virtual environments as mixed reality, we have developed the e-MUSE system (electronic multi-user stage environment). e-MUSE is derived from an artistic point of departure: the installation 'Murmuring Fields'.
'Murmuring Fields' is an interactive communication space. Realised in part real and part virtual space, it is the framework for a Mixed Reality installation.
Imagine a room furnished with data.
'Murmuring Fields' is a virtual room filled with data. Here the visitor can rely on the scale of the body and space while at the same time navigating through the 'furniture' of data. Data is organised spatially and revealed as the visitor navigates the space. As a mixed reality environment the visitor's exploration of virtual space is connected to real space and other participants' experiences. Building on the concept of virtual stages, participants are brought into a field of body language.
'Murmuring Fields' relies on the development of invisible and intuitive interfaces which facilitate full body interaction. Using real-time video tracking the visitor's intuitive exploration of real space is transferred to the virtual environment. The real space - a room of 10 by 10 metres - is mapped on to the virtual space. As the visitor's awareness increases the body interaction from one spatial environment becomes influenced by the other.
The visitor's body movement is represented as traces in virtual space. Treated as an extended body of communication, user representation is replaced with the notion of user enactment. The TRACE-avatar embodies movement and gesture as channels of communication. The guiding aspects are the abstraction of visual appearance and the procedural creation of traces connected to body movement in real time.
Murmuring Fields' demonstrates a framework for an extended performance, overcoming the split between acting and observing. It moves away from the isolated actor connecting him with a multi-sensorial reality joined by other participants. When entering 'Murmuring Fields', the first thing visitors notice is the black and white murmuring sound space reacting on the movements of their bodies. The sounds are structured as a field of density. The virtual world is inhabited by statements of the philosophers and thinkers: Paul Virilio, Villem Flusser, Marvin Minsky and Joseph Weizenbaum. In the centre these statements overlap creating a collage of noise. Space is dense and filled. As one moves outwards the statements are broken first into words and then into single phonemes. The movement of the user triggers the sound files creating sound experiences. Travelling from the centre outwards is a travel from density to silence. Movement causes coding and de-coding, arranging and rearranging content. Philosophical navigation incites discovery and produces polyphone sound scapes. As people move around they develop a spatial relation between their memory and the virtual space.
e-MUSE: future systems
WHAT DID WE LEARN ?
Monika Fleischmann is an Artist and the Head of Media Arts Research Studies, Wolfgang Strauss is an Artist and Interface Designer, Mette Thomsen is an Architect, and Jasminko Novak is a Computer Scientist. They are all from MARS: