Sulcus Loci [Latin: Brain Room] is a collaborative undertaking between the University of Queensland’s School’s of Music (Eve Klein), Architecture (Kim Baber and John de Manincor), and Information Technology & Electrical Engineering [ITEE] (Ben Matthews and Stephen Viller), The Queensland Brain Institute [QBI] (Luke Hammond) and the UQ Art Museum (Allison Holland) with invited Artist in Residence (AIR) Svenja Kratz.
The project involved the development of a dynamic interactive environment designed by staff and students from the School of Architecture and the Multimedia and Interaction Design program incorporating images and augmented soundscapes created using data from The Queensland Brain Institute’s Microscopy Unit. Initiated by QBI through an ambition to explore ways to bring their research outputs into the public arena and expand upon the Art in Neuroscience program, the project has evolved into a rare collaboration that spans across four organisations within the university.
The project showcases some of the impressive research images by QBI researchers. The fascinating imagery and new research insights from QBI have been used as the foundation for the creation of an immersive interactive environment that comments on neuro-plasticity, cellular interactions and new research technologies employed at the institute, such as optogenetics. The structure and interactive elements were designed by students from the Master of Architecture Program and the Interaction Design (IXD) research unit in ITEE in collaboration with other team members. Sound Artist Eve Klein from UQ’s School of Music composed a changing soundscape for the installation and artist in residence Svenja Kratz worked with team members, particularly Allison Holland, Luke Hammond, Architecture master’s student Shuwei Zhang and the IXD cohort to produce an integrated, interactive sculptural component.
Work began in July 2015 with the establishment of the Artist in Residency Program funded by the UQ Art Museum. As part of her role as artist in residence, Svenja Kratz provided the initial conceptual framework and project brief for the pavilion as a starting point for the collaboration. Over the following weeks, architecture students, with guidance from Kim Barber and input from team members, designed and built a large-scale architectural structure that houses a flexible inner fabric skin.
The fabric interior section acts as both projection surface and touch screen. Following construction of the pavilion, IXD students and team members worked together to explore different ways the inner skin and structure respond with people inside the pavilion, as well as the central sculptural component. The resulting interactive design centred on engagement with the fabric skin. As viewers gently push the fabric, a visual node incorporating imagery from QBI is created. The node grows larger, the longer that the viewer pushes the fabric surface. The creation of a node also changes the light within the integrated sculptural component, to reveal black-light responsive materials within the sculptural structure. Nodes created by different viewers also connect and form links over time. In addition to the projection, sensors within the structure detect movement of viewers and send a signal to servos that subtly alter the physical structure of the space.
The prototype was completed in November 2015. This proof-of-concept ‘soft-opening’ showcased key project features including the completed pavilion and fabric structure, interactivity demonstration and integrated sculpture.
Architecture: Kim Baber and John de Manincor
UQ Architecture Workshop: John Stafford and Sam Butler
Students: Jesse du Plessis, Shuwei Zhang, Oliver Shearer, Ivy Tan, Daniel Thompson, Duong Thai, Jessica Kane, Kaoly Ko, Jordan Hunter, Bernardo Fernández De Lara, Rebekah Hawke, Jane Ruiyi Xu, Corina Costin, Fiona McAlpine
ITEE: Stephen Viller and Ben Mattews
Students: En Bo, Racheal Smith, Jacob Greenaway, Bianca Pretorius, David Chaseling
QBI: Luke Hammond
Music: Eve Klein
UQ ART MUSEUM: Allison Holland
AIR – UQ ART MUSEUM: Svenja Kratz
Many thanks to the UQ ART MUSEUM for supporting the project with the UQ Artist in Residence Program.