Design I/O

Theo Watson, Emily Gobeille and Nick Hardeman
Connected Worlds
Connected Worlds is an immersive, interactive ecosystem that was designed for the New York Hall of Science. It’s an installation of six smaller ecosystems, actually—all of which are connected, much like real ecosystems are. The difference here is that the environments only exist on massive screens connected by a 3,000-ft² interactive floor.

localStyle (Marlena Novak & Jay Alan Yim) in collaboration with Malcolm MacIver

‘scale’ is an interspecies art project: an audience-interactive installation that involves nocturnal electric fish from the Amazon River Basin. Twelve different species of these fish comprise a choir whose sonified electrical fields provide the source tones for an immersive audiovisual environment. The fish are housed in individual tanks configured in a custom-built sculptural arc of aluminum frames placed around a central podium. The electrical field from each fish is translated into sound, and is thus heard — unprocessed or with digital effects added, with immediate control over volume via a touchscreen panel — through a 12-channel surround sound system, and with LED arrays under each tank for visual feedback. All software is custom-designed. Audience members interact as deejays with the system. Amongst the goals of the project is our desire to foster wider public awareness of these remarkable creatures, their importance to the field of neurological research, and the fragility of their native ecosystem.The project leaders comprise visual/conceptual artist Marlena Novak, composer/sound designer Jay Alan Yim, and neural engineer Malcolm MacIver. MacIver’s research focuses on sensory processing and locomotion in electric fish and translating this research into bio-inspired technologies for sensing and underwater propulsion through advanced fish robots. Novak and Yim, collaborating as ‘localStyle’, make intermedia works that explore perceptual themes, addressing both physical and psychological thresholds in the context of behavior, society/politics, and aesthetics.

Amanita Design

Samorost 3
Prague-based Amanita Design, creators of the award-winning Mechinarium, recently released what may be their best game yet: Samorost 3. This deeply immersive puzzle game spans the ecosystems of 9 unusual planets as you encounter strange inhabitants and unlock increasingly complex secrets to advance to the next level. Amanita Design’s approach to creating completely non-verbal/non-textual games relies heavily on intuition, sound design, and symbolism to create environments that are practically interactive artworks.


Джон Маккормак
Eden – an evolutionary sonic ecosystem

Eden is an interactive, self-generating, artificial ecosystem. A cellular world is populated by collections of evolving virtual creatures. These creatures move about their environment, making and listening to sounds, foraging for food, encountering predators and possibly mating with each other. Over time, creatures evolve to fit their landscape. Eden has four seasons per year and each year lasts 600 Eden days. One Eden year passes by in about fifteen minutes of real time. A simple physics dictates only three basic types of matter in the Eden world: rocks, biomass and sonic creatures.

Joon Y. Moon

Augmented Shadow
File Festival

Augmented Shadow is a design experiment producing an artificial shadow effect through the use of tangible objects, blocks, on a displayable tabletop interface. Its goal is to offer a new type of user-experience. The project plays on the fact that shadows present distorted silhouettes depending on the light. Augmented Shadows take the distortion effect into the realm of fantasy. Shadows display below the objects according to the physics of the real world. However, the shadows themselves transform the objects into houses, occupied by shadow creatures. By moving the blocks around the table the user sets off series of reactions within this new fantasy ecosystem. In this installation, the shadows exist both in a real and a virtual environment simultaneously. It thus brings augmented reality to the tabletop by way of a tangible interface. The shadow is an interface metaphor connecting the virtual world and users. Second, the unexpected user experience results from manipulating the users’ visual perceptions, expectations, and imagination to inspire re-perception and new understanding. Therefore, users can play with the shadows lying on the boundary between the real, virtual, and fantasy. Augmented Shadow utilizes this unique interface metaphor for interactive storytelling. Maximizing the magical amusement of AR, it is embedding an ecosystem where imaginary objects and organic beings co-exist while each of them influences on each other’s life-cycle, even though it is not in use by users. Light and shadow play critical roles in this world’s functions causing chain reactions between virtual people, trees, birds, and houses. A set of tangible blocks allows users to participate in the ecosystem. Users can influence on the system by playing with the blocks or observe the changes of the shadows as if kids were playing with an ant farm.