Sitting under a highway: immersive audiovisual art experience

A virtual reality, meditative audiovisual art experience. Created with soundscapes, textures and objects captured through the mindful exploration of the area framed by the Don River and Gardiner Highway in Toronto. An EEG reader measures the combined levels of concentration and relaxation of the user to activate scene changes and object movement and interaction. A hand-tracking sensor also allows the user to interact in the virtual space. The soundscapes are created with a mix of 3D audio recordings of the area and realtime sound processing and spatialization of those recordings. Visuals where captured using photogrammetry and a stereoscopic video camera (cube textures).

Visuals: Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, Oculus Rift (HMD), photogrammetry & stereoscopic videos
Audio: Cycling ’74 Max, ambisonic soundscape recordings (custom designed B-Format microphone), realtime sound processing, 3rd order ambisonic spatialization
Interactivity: Leap Motion (hand tracking) and Muse EEG Band (electroencephalography)

Thesis Abstract:

Exploring the integration of place mindfulness and immersion in audiovisual art practices

Postmodern society is characterized by an increasing disconnect with our inhabited spaces. The glocalization efforts made by commercial interests and the emphasis on the utilitarian conceptualization of the world affect local culture, contributing to a thinning out of the relationships with our lived places. Making reference to the standing-reserve theory of Heidegger; the geophilosophy of Edward Casey; Zen meditation; soundscape composition and other audiovisual art practices, I suggest that artistic processes informed by the attentive exploration of a geographical location may contribute to create awareness about the nature of this disconnect.

Sitting under a highway is a research-creation project presented as an interactive audiovisual virtual and presential space. By wearing a head-mounted display, a hand tracking device, headphones and an electroencephalography band, the audience experiences photorealistic 3D visuals and spatial audio that are the product of an artistic practice centred on the attentive aesthetic exploration of a physical place.

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