In the middle of a dark room a man moves his body in front of a large cylindrical screen that displays different avatars mirroring his every move.
The man is performance artist and Curtin University’s School of Design and Art researcher Professor Stelarc, using new kinetic equipment for his performance at the launch of the new visual multimedia facility at the John Curtin Gallery.
The facility, known as the Hub for Immersive Visualisation for eResearch (HIVE), is a multi disciplinary initiative made up of four large display screens with different functions that can be used for anything from scientific research to video conferences or even performance art.
Tile Wall at Curtin HIVE by Robert Frith displaying synthetic opal spheres by the Curtin Electron Microscope Facility
“It is intended to be a facility for use across the university and for encouraging interactions and partnerships with external organisers,” said Andrew Woods, HIVE’s Technical Manager.
The guest list included around 120 people from different Curtin departments and throughout Perth.
“We are showing three or four different types of content to provide an illustration of what is possible,” Mr Woods said.
Guests were shown four short demonstrations of what each screen could do and be used for.
Wedge Screen at Curtin Hive by Robert Frith displaying 3D rendering of HAMS Sydney II lifeboat from Two Lost Ships Project with data from Australian War Memorial
The tour began at the 24 megapixel mosaic tile wall on which examples of interactive video conferences and high resolution photographic presentations were shown. Guests then put on 3D glasses to look at the diagonal wedge screen and become immersed in virtual environments and videos.
The 3D glasses stayed on as guests watched photographic panoramas and Professor Stelarc’s kinetic performance with avatars copying his movements on the three metre high, eight metre wide, 180 degree cylindrical screen.
The Dome display at the Curtin HIVE. Photograph by Robert Frith displaying the PhD project “Primordial Disclosures” by Dr Danny Jennings.
The final demonstration at the four metre diameter dome screen was the most immersive and popular. Guests stood in the middle of the dome in an almost realistic panorama of photographic stills and video which filled their primary and peripheral vision.
Professor Stelarc said the HIVE represents the future of digital research and will be a beneficial space for new media art projects.
“One can argue that artists have always been working with new media,” he said.
“Most artists now will be using video, making interactive installations, doing online art works, working with robotics and even medical imagery.”
Professor Stelarc said he hopes to use the HIVE for his future research projects.
“I’d like to do a full performance using these display screens and experimenting with sound,” he said.
The Cylinder at Curtin HIVE by Robert Frith displaying Asian Temple Superstructures by Curtin Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture
Dr Remo Burkhard, Singapore’s ETC Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability’s Managing Director and an expert in data visualisation, officially launched the HIVE.
“Visualisation can be an instrumental tool to make the world a better place,” he said.
“It is a honey pot for researchers like me.”
Curtin University has introduced a major in Visual Technologies designed to provide students of all disciplines with visual skills they can use in their careers.
The HIVE is now a permanent feature that will be open to all faculties and will exhibit the annual John Curtin library exhibition for the first time in digital format.