OP_ERA Makes U.S. Debut at UCI?s Beall Center

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

05.02.05 – OP_ERA, a virtual reality environment that allows users to control their surroundings through touch and sound, is on display through June 11 at UC Irvine’s Beall Center for Art & Technology. The exhibit, making its U.S. debut, is the winner of two national art and technology awards in Brazil. 

OP_ERA at Beall Center
OP_ERA uses sound and motion to control
the exhibit's environment

The immersive and interactive installation is a black, open cube designed as a music box. Each of its three walls is filled with hundreds of visually identical violin-like strings. Tuned with specific tension, each virtual string vibrates with a visual-sound frequency that varies according to its relative position and mode of interaction. Visitors make music by touching the “strings” or by simply moving around near them.

The installation incorporates two modes of interaction: a microphone that collects the user’s sounds and an array of motion sensors. When the microphone picks up sound, the software analyzes, filters and converts it into equivalent visual outputs. If the user sounds like an F, he will see the relative F frequencies vibrating as strings. At the same time, the sensors interpret action as a gravitational force. For example, when the user points to a string set, the action not only vibrates the selected strings, but it also changes the shape of space time.

OP_ERA is an ongoing research project developed by Daniela Kutschat and Rejane Cantoni. Kutschat, of São Paulo , Brazil , is an artist, lecturer and researcher, with a doctorate in visual arts. She coordinates post-graduate studies in interactive media at SENAC, Brazil 's National Commercial Training Service, in São Paulo . Kutschat’s research focuses on computer systems, digital media, cognition and human-computer interfaces. She also develops body-space integrating systems for interactive and virtual reality environments.

Rejane Cantoni is an artist and new technologies researcher who develops human-machine interfaces within intelligent environments. She has a doctorate in communication and semiotics from the Catholic University of São Paulo, where she currently works as an assistant professor in technology and digital media in the computer science department.

For more information about the exhibit, go to: http://beallcenter.uci.edu/calendar/0405.php