Norwegian Arts Council and Galleri ROM
Submergence transforms physical space into a Mixed Reality environment where virtual and real worlds coincide. It creates an immersive experience using light to alter our perceptions of space and presence. The experience is akin to walking through an abstract virtual environment, where pixels on a screen are replaced by thousands of points of light floating in space. These points of light create evocations and atmospheres, presence and movement, in physical space.The piece uses 8,064 points of LED light arranged in a grid and suspended in a physical walkthrough space. The first installation measured 8m x 4m and 4m high.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Squidsoup's projects are all about overcoming the current limitations of digital media. Pushing the boundaries of traditional interaction and display methods, particularly the representation of, and interaction with, digital content in more naturalistic spatial environments. We aim to blur boundaries between what is real and what is computer generated by creating responsive, immersive and dynamic hybrid installation environments.. This is done by placing digital media into physical space using a number of techniques. One avenue we are pursuing with this is effective volumetric visualisations using suspended LEDs in three dimensional spaces.
Submergence is part of a far larger and ongoing research project called Ocean of Light that is constantly looking to evolve the scale, interactivity and fidelity of the experiences produced through the LED grids we are creating. We started with a 1m cube and with this latest iteration created an environment that was 8m x 4m and 4m high. The major challenge that we wanted to overcome through Submergence was the ability for an audience to move within the grid and for the space to react to their movements accordingly. This was both challenging in terms of the physical construction of the grid itself, but also with respect to the motion detection system we needed to develop to track movement.
The project was self initiated, though in part the result of the gallery director challenging us to "fill and transform the gallery space". It was funded through a grant awarded by the Norwegian Arts Council.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Squidsoup have been working with LED grids for the last five years - looking for ways to treat them as a volumetric medium. By this, we mean working towards a unified system that can be used to display media that is three dimensional and occupies physical space. Unlike glasses and stereoscopy, holograms and so on, it is essentially a social medium in that anyone within the physical space can see it. This is also the first time that people have been able to walk within the space, finally creating an environment that visitors can experience from within.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Submergence is a point along an ongoing research trajectory that forms the basis of a number of academic research platforms for members within the group and an integral part of a PhD study. It is the result of five years of investigation (to date) into volumetric visualisation using LED grids. The project has been quality assured through the original commissioning process that funded it, and subsequently through requests for its inclusion in a number of major festivals internationally.
The research process has followed an iterative design methodology - researching technology, developing a concept, building the work and then reflecting on the subsequent intervention before the next iteration. Each work that has preceded Submergence has not only been a piece in its own right, but also acted as a prototype on a far longer project timeline.
Each new iteration of the work has been informed by careful observation of both; the efficacy of the hardware and software produced i.e longevity, durability, reliability etc, but more importantly has yielded the opportunity to observe user interactions with the work. Insights into user behaviour/reaction to the work both in terms of the physical construction and affective qualities of the digital works shown have informed future designs for the piece.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The project represents a milestone in the development of a new kind of media that can be used to control the perception of spaces to a high degree of sophistication, effectively creating dynamic architectures, environments and atmospheres from light.
Submergence is leading edge technology for creating fully immersive, interactive, light based environments.The modularity of the grid means that it has multiple possibilities for use in a commercial context. This is evidenced through a contrasting commission by the Royal Society New Zealand to use the system as a light feature in the foyer of their brand new building - http://www.squidsoup.org/volume4096/ . This is just one example of the potential uses for this approach.
I really like the piece itself, I imagine it must be quite an experience to be inside it and the feelings that can wake up to the game and the movement of the lights. – Mauricio Lara
LEDs are now part of the global lighting tendencies, so I found it very good application of this resource and above all a good concept to be able to walk inside the information. – Sebastián Lara
I loved it, but it reminds me a lot of “Fireflyrs” by Yayoi Kusama. – Andres Mier y Teran