BIRD SONG DIAMOND Japan 2016 Event report
On January 24th, 2016, the Program in Empowerment Informatics (EMP) hosted the BIRD SONG DIAMOND Japan 2016 event in the world’s largest Virtual Reality space, “Large Space.” designed by EMP Program leader, Prof. Hiroo Iwata. The project was initiated by evolutionary biologist, UCLA Professor Charles Taylor who solicited artist and UCLA Professor Victoria Vesna to create an artwork based on his research of mapping the acoustic network of birds. She developed a site specific piece with the help of physicist and Professor Takashi Ikegami.
BIRD SONG DIAMOND Japan was part of the EMP program’s original graduate course, “Topics in Empowerment Informatics II.” Four EMP graduate students (Aisen Carolina Chacin, 3rd year; Masa Jazbec, 3rd year; Hikaru Takatori, 2nd year; Takeru Oozu, 1st year) formed a group with collaborators from multiple disciplines and materialized this aural and visual sensory installation.
Around fifty people participated in the one-day event, including students and faculty interested in this installation, and the general public. The event was streamed all day, with thousands of people viewing from all around the world.
The members of the BIRD SONG DIAMOND Project
We began the experience at noon, and after the first performance, Professors Victoria Vesna, Hiroo Iwata, Takashi Ikegami and Reiji Suzuki (University of Nagoya) led the opening discussion and Q&A about the installation with the participants.
Scenes from the opening discussion
Participants of the event attached translucent bird wings with sensors to their arms, giving them the ability to experience and participate in bird flock movement and bird songs as they walked around the Large Space. The flocking is an artificial life program developed by the physicist and professor Ikegami and was changing in relation to the participants in real time.
The Japanese bird songs were contributed by Professor Reiji Suzuki were just as immersive with 20 parametric speakers that also respond to the participants. Just as the entire art work was portraying the interplay of virtual and real worlds, so was the sound environment developed by Itsuki Doi from the Ikegami lab. At one point, a real drone entered the space, interacting with the drone boids and the participants in the space.
We were able to solicit opinions from ornithologists, artists and VR specialists among the participants, a unique opportunity for our students to develop their research vision.
Scenes from the installation event
Participants fly using the motion base
Scenes from the drone enabled performance
In the closing discussion, Professor Victoria Vesna greeted the participants and introduced the members of the group that created this installation. In turn, the group members also introduced themselves, and concluded the event in high spirits. This proceeding of this event were streamed live on Ustream all over the world, a good opportunity for the general public to learn about the EMP program’s activities.
Scenes from the closing discussion
Video clips are available from links below.