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The School of Arts, Media and Engineering conducts research on experiential media and systems that impact large-scale societal problems that are invested in improving the human condition.
We develop environments within which groups of people can experience simulations of complex dynamical systems of weather, cities and other complex biosocial, physical or symbolic worlds. Collaborating with experts from relevant scientific domains, we simulate these systems with enough richness and accuracy to not only capture essential dynamics but also to realize them for real-time steering. A key distinction is that people can feel their way through the simulations by steering the dynamics with gesture and movement or sound, with multi-sensory engagement, using live responsive computational media – moving image, spatialized sound, light fields, physical props, and narrative media. (See also the Improvisational Environments initiative.)
The Sensing Systems and Algorithms (SSA) Initiative seeks to model, understand, and build algorithms, software, and hardware for audiovisual sensing. Through solving challenges in the capture, processing, and representation of sensor data, SSA seeks to build platforms for a multitude of media processing applications, including virtual/augmented/mixed-reality and interactive installations.
This research explores why making use of haptic interfaces—which offer physical feedback and resistance to the performer—may be viewed as an important approach in addressing the shortcomings of some the standard systems used to mediate the performer’s and audience’s engagement with various sorts of digital musical information.
For more information about the initiative, please contact:
Affliates: Jessica Rajko, Xin Luo
The main scientific goal of this experimental research on experience is to gain insight into (1) how people can improvise gestures and activity that are meaningful to themselves and each other in environments where the media respond to activity as richly as physical matter, and (2) how people enactively shape events continuously through embodied interaction with computationally augmented, experientially rich media environments. Art production is a means but not the end of this research. By art, we mean the poetic—and poetically precise—conditioning of experience. This builds on the responsive environments that have been pioneered by the Topological Media Lab and AME since 2001. (NSF CISE/CRI, NEA motione, NSF IGERT , Media Choreography, Ozone)
Our team has developed an adaptive, mixed reality rehabilitation (AMMR) system to train reaching and grasping movements of stroke survivors. Mixed reality therapy, combining training in virtual and physical environments, was developed to connect virtual learning to physical reality, and thus better facilitate the transfer of strategies from therapy to activities of daily living. The AMRR system integrates rehabilitation and motor learning theories with high-resolution motion capture and sensing technologies, smart physical objects, and interactive computer graphics and sound.
The Speculative Cultures transdisciplinary research axis asks a very basic question: How can we generate a culture of speculation, imagination and experimentation in the 21st century? This axis proposes we can forge a culture of research and creation from the unobserved, the unimagined, and the unthought. To do this, we draw on techniques from cultural theory and philosophy (Nocek), citizen-based science (Kuznetsov), literature and imagination research (Finn), somatics (Coleman), and experimental arts and sciences (Sha). We adapt and invent methodologies, techniques and discourses suitable for exploring what does not yet exist but may one day. A number of labs, centers, and art/design initiatives are associated with the Speculative Cultures research axis: Center for Science and the Imagination (CSI); Laboratory for Critical Technics (LCT); Social and Digital Systems Group (SANDS); Synthesis Center