‘cloudscape’ by german climate engineering firm transsolar and japanese firm tetsuo kondo architects explores the poetic nature of clouds with their installation at the 12th international architecture binnale in venice, italy this year. by controlling the microclimate of the space in the arsenale building, a layer of artificial clouds are made to hover above the ground level, remaining in balance above the heads
of the viewers.

to fully experience the immaterial lightness of clouds, a winding system of ramps is situated in the middle of the room, allowing the viewers to feel and touch the clouds by physically entering it, walking over it, and back down again. this meandering pathway aims to show all three layers of distinct climates in the room: on the ground level, the air is cool and dry, while half way up the ramps among the clouds, the air is warm and humid. when you finally come up above the cloud layer, the air is hot but moistureless. by replacing pressure differences and temperature gradients, all instances of the structure offers a unique atmosphere with different qualities of light.

via design boom

KM3D-1 – AnOther magazine presents world’s first 3D fashion film.

Created by AnOther Magazine with artist and filmmaker Baillie Walsh, KM3D-1 stars Kate Moss. The work continues Moss and Walsh’s journey into experimental, multi-dimensional image-making, first seen in their legendary holographic film for Alexander McQueen’s autumn/winter 2006 show.

With a performance that recalls the fantastical cinema of Ray Harryhausen, James Bidgood and Kenneth Anger, KM3D-1 places at its centre one of the most iconic female figures of the modern age. Suspended in time and space, Kate is caught inexorably in the parallax gap; a butterfly in a spider’s web.

The Vortex Concerts

In 1957 the composer Henry Jacobs convinced the Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco to let him use their newly renovated four-track surround-sound system for a series of concerts. Jacobs commissioned new pieces of electronic music from international composers and asked Jordan Belson to prepare visual imagery that could be projected on the dome during each number.

Having access to the planetarium “starscape” projectors, as well as conventional film and slide projectors, opened for Belson the possibility of rivaling Thomas Wilfred’s light projections, which had impressed him years earlier in New York. Belson used filmed footage of his own, as well as that of his friends Hy Hirsh and James Whitney and his wife at the time, Jane Conger. Belson linked Whitney’s film Yantra to a composition by the Dutchman Henk Badings called “Cain and Abel,” and the match worked so well that Whitney had it printed on the film for distribution. Whitney also animated a short visual accompaniment to Pierre Henry’s “High Voltage.” Belson himself filmed long scroll paintings through a kaleidoscope to produce dazzling flows of richly textured imagery, some of which he issued separately as the film Raga. Conger’s cut-out mandalas also formed the basis for a film for Henry Jacobs’ music Logos.

These Vortex Concerts proved so successful that they continued for three years and traveled to the Brussels World Fair in 1958.

[Moritz, William. "History of Experimental Animation." Website. Absolut Panushka, curated by Christine Panushka. (Jan-Apr 1997)]

5D | The Future of Immersive Design conference 2010

5D | The Future of Immersive Design is the visionary, international conference for all designers, practitioners and students working in the fields of narrative media.

Digital technologies are blurring the boundaries between the creative and interactive experience of visual art, entertainment, environmental design and the built environment. For all those engaged in the visual processes of world-building and storytelling in narrative media, 5D is the platform for exploring the present and future of immersive design, and its impact on all aspects of trans-media space. 5D identifies and unites a vital community of designers and image-makers while serving as a catalyst for innovation.

5D is delighted to present Keynote speakers Shekhar Kapur: film director, producer, adventurer and poet, and Jeff Kipnis: preeminent architectural critic, theorist and designer who will explode the conference with their discussion, “CHAOS and MISBEHAVIOR”. Expect to see red-hot shrapnel and career-changing ideas.

The conference will take place at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University.  Presented by the University Art Museum (UAM) at California State University, Long Beach and the Art Directors Guild (ADG), this international conference assembles the design world’s leading pioneers and academics in an open exchange of ideas and insights about new design processes within the entertainment industry and the delivery of the immersive experience.

We’ve selected a location as dynamic as the conference it’s hosting. 5D welcomes you to Long Beach, California. Whether you’re driving from a Southern California location or flying in from another coast or country, you’ll find Long Beach offers a vibrant, creative, and convenient backdrop for ideas and innovation at 5D.

THE gigantic Globe of Mr. James Wyld, now opened in Leicester-square

“THE gigantic Globe of Mr. James Wyld, now opened in Leicester-square, is modelled on a scale of ten geographical miles to an inch horizontal, or six inches to a degree, and it is one mile to an inch vertical, the diameter being sixty feet. By means of a gradual ascent at different stages this colossal figure of the earth, with its mountain and valley, sea and river, may be viewed from a moderate distance. The objects just mentioned are represented by numberless raised blocks, and castings in plaster, figured on the interior concave of the sphere, the fittings up of which must have been both difficult and expensive. The President of the Royal Geographical Society, in his late address, stated that Mr. Wyld was good enough to show and explain to him the whole of his undertaking, with which he was both surprised and pleased. “Recollecting that only a limited part of a sphere can meet the eye at once, it occurred to Mr. Wyld, that, by figuring the earth’s surface on the interior instead of the exterior of his globe, the observer would be enabled to embrace the distribution of land and water, with the physical features of the Globe, at one view. And in this,” added the president, ” he has succeeded; from the great size, the examiner of details is hardly aware that he is gazing on a concavity. The attempt is well worthy of the projector and of the spirit of the age.”
Little need be added to such high authority; but the last phrase reminds us that Mr. Wyld has himself recorded, that, “but for the Industrial Exhibition, his work would never have been undertaken. The congregation in London of the different nations and races of our empire and of the world was deemed the proper moment for the completion of a great model of the Earth’s Surface, and the realisation of a thought which had for many years occupied his mind.” We are also informed, that, had time or the occasion permitted, and had obstructions not been offered by some of the inhabitants of Leicester-square, Mr. Wyld would have endeavoured, by the formation of attached galleries, class-rooms, and museums, to render the institution still more available for the allied studies of geology and ethnology ; nor does he yet abandon the hope of being able to do so. What is already realised, however, is an important boon, and calculated to supersede to a great extent the inefficient use of maps.”

The Illustrated London News, 1851

New Disney Store design: ‘immersive, one-of-a-kind retail experience’

After plenty of missteps in the retail world, Disney is finally generating positive buzz, unveiling its new prototype just outside Los Angeles. The new Disney Store lets kids build toy custom cars inside, conjure up princesses in magical mirrors, and follow trails of pixie dust; an additional 19 newly designed stores are scheduled to open throughout the rest of the year.

Disney Store recently celebrates the launch of its newly-designed store with a grand opening event at The Shops at Montebello complex in Montebello, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles. The high-tech makeover of Disney Store solidifies the retailer’s global leadership in children’s retail and activates the future transformation of its more than 300 locations worldwide.

Among the many new attractions of the newly designed store is the first-ever DisneyPixar CARS-branded RIDEMAKERZ experience which sets the stage for kids of all ages to build 1:18 scale toy custom cars inside of Disney Store.

The Montebello store is the first of 20 newly designed Disney Store locations that will open across major markets in the United States and Europe in 2010. The 4,800-plus square foot store’s floor-to-ceiling remodel now features multimedia technology, interactive storytelling and Disney Store exclusive merchandise that bring Disney’s most beloved characters to life for families in the local community.

“As part of Disney, we’re committed to the value of entertainment and exclusive experiences,” said Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide. “Disney is setting a new standard for the specialty retail category by integrating robust technology and creative store planning to make each visit customizable and that much more memorable. This is truly an immersive, one-of-a-kind retail experience for children and families that only Disney could deliver.”

Technology is integrated throughout the new store to create magical moments for guests:

The newly designed Disney Store is merchandised by franchise neighborhoods so guests can easily shop by character or theme and is anchored by several “hero fixtures” including:

  • The DisneyPixar CARS-branded RIDEMAKERZ attraction is a one-of-a-kind immersive car building and customizing experience. Launching with three favorite CARS characters — Lightning McQueen, Mater and Sally — fans use tools to assemble their car, and their imagination to customize it with a wide selection of rims, side pipes, hoods scoops, blown engines, spoilers and many more accessories. DisneyPixar CARS-branded RIDEMAKERZ toy vehicles will only be available within the new Disney Store design and, later this year, at RIDEMAKERZ retail locations.
  • The Disney Princess Castle with Magic Mirror – A child-sized princess castle anchors the Disney Princess neighborhood and inspires kids to make believe. As they walk under the iconic castle they encounter a magic mirror and with the wave of a wand, they watch in delight as their favorite Disney Princess character appears.

A customizable shopping experience: The new store concept also includes the launch of an all new in-store application where guests can customize their shopping experience. Accessed via an interactive kiosk with touch screen, this animated experience gives users the ability to navigate a 3-D view of all Disney Store and products and discover the latest Disney Store news via video clips, articles, and social media feeds. This application allows the Disney Store to share its news to customers, who can then share information and in-store events via email, Twitter and Facebook.

The Disney Store Theatre: The newly designed stores will also feature a theater as part of its marquee attractions. Guests can pick from a selection of pre-loaded content that will be updated regularly and can view classic and new Disney entertainment, sneak-peek previews, music videos and more. The theater will also serve for special in-store events such as reading time, scavenger hunts and more.

The “Pixie Dust Trail” and “Magical Trees”: With its glistening blue glitter, the Pixie Dust Trail leads guests through the store and to major interactive elements as they enjoy a Disney-themed skyline and surrounding magical trees which are programmable with changing colors, images, and music set to an array of Disney themes.

About Disney Store

The Disney Store retail chain, which debuted in 1987, is owned and operated by Disney in North America, Europe, and Japan. Disney Store is an affiliate of Disney Consumer Products, the business segment that extends the Disney brand to merchandise. Disney Store carries high-quality products, including exclusive product lines that support and promote Disney’s key entertainment initiatives and characters. Disney Store opened its first store in Glendale, California and, in doing so, originated the themed retail business model. There are currently more than 200 Disney Store locations in North America; more than 40 Disney Store locations in Japan; and more than 100 Disney Store locations in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, in addition to an online store, Each Disney Store location offers a magical shopping experience that can only be delivered by Disney (NYSE: DIS), one of the world’s largest and most successful entertainment companies.

Huge Panorama of London in 1845

In 1845, the Illustrated London News gave away a hand drawn panorama of the Thames running roughly from Vauxhall in the West to just past Greenwich in the East. (via Ianvisits)

Illustrated London News - London Panorama 1845 detail

Illustrated London News - London Panorama 1845 detail

Navigate the full image at the wonderful Ianvisits

Plastikman Live: memories, immersion, co-creation and reactive music

Are music performances morphing into proper sensory environments that live beyond the space and time of the performance itself? Sonar 2010 Plastikman Live has been one of best music performances I’ve ever been part of and although still firmly anchored to the stage/performance model it introduces a combination of elements which are definitely pointing in that direction.

The live electronic performance incorporates state of the art visual architecture and interactive solutions to extend the stage space into and around the audience space.

Although still based on a stage vs audience model, the show manages to overcame some of the limitations of the frontal set up enabling (limited) interactions via a mobile app (which also introduces the idea of Plastikman as a persistent live audio environment beyond the performance itself) and wrapping up the performer in a semi-circular screen which kind of acts as a vicarious immersion for the audience (the audience can also switch to the performer view via the mobile app – see below).

And the interaction element didn’t stop there as back in January Hawtin & Derivative launched a live visual contest to crowdsource some of the visuals of the show (more details on the contest, the winners and the real-time visual environment designed to support the co-creation on Derivative’s blog)

Plastikman Teknik Rehearsal from Ali Demirel on Vimeo.

Debuted at this year’s Timewarp festival on March 27th, 2010, the new show evolves from the previous Plastikman live performance at Canada’s Mutek festival in 2004, by continuing to explore the connection between visual, audio and interactivity, and once again partnering visual architects Derivative alongside visual designer Ali Demirel. Building upon everything learned from the Hawtin/Demirel Timewarp shows of 2005-2007 and 2008′s Contakt multimedia events, Plastikman Live condenses all of these elements into a new highly concentrated one-hour experience.

Reinterpreting the 18 year history of Hawtin’s Plastikman material, Plastikman Live moves from the acidic atmospheres of ‘Sheet One’ to the disorienting funk of ‘Musik’, to the nostalgic moments of ‘Artifakts’, through the depths of ‘Consumed’ and into the darkness of ‘Closer’. Recapturing the spirit of the early Plastikman albums and parties in Detroit, Plastikman Live is a fusion of the past and future, the visual and audible, between performer and audience, of expectations and anticipation.

Plastikman Live @ Dissonanze Roma, Italy from CPU on Vimeo.

Plastikman Live @ Paris, Villette Sonique from CPU on Vimeo.

Plastikman Live @ DEMF, Detroit 2010. Derivative Visuals from isabelle rousset on Vimeo.

“It has always fascinated me how sound, lighting, visuals and human interactivity define and deepen a concert experience By focusing on my own unique Plastikman sound I hope to find new freedom and explore the extremes of where these elements converge, challenging our senses, stimulating our memories, and creating an experience of physical and mental intensity that can be only Plastikman” – Richie Hawtin, January 2010

The interactive element of the live show is Plastikman SYNK, the official companion app to the 2010 Plastikman Live world-wide tour. The App is a component of the immersive environment that the show creates using various converging technologies.

Conceptualized by Richie Hawtin and developed with RJ Fischer ( and Bryan McDade (Minus), SYNK allows the users to participate in an experiment in audience-performer interaction aiming to blur the lines of perception and participation.

The application has different states that only become active at specific moments during Plastikman Live performances. A vibration of the phone notifies the user when a new state becomes active.

The 5 interaction states are:

Based upon earlier “Lodgikal Nonsense” and “Vokx” voice tracks, this state invites the audience to re-organize the word samples using a user interface of 20 touch buttons. In this state the centre of performance control is moved from the stage and into the audience.

This state is accessible throughout the show and gives users a live video stream of an internal perspective of the performance.

This state explores the synkronicity of realtime-generated percussion patterns and their visual counterparts, integrating the stage LED wall and the built in displays on each SYNK activated iPhone/iPod Touch.

This state is active during the entire show with realtime performance information. At specific moments an extended Konsole state becomes activated, allowing further insight into the realtime programming of the performance’s drum and percussive elements, while also providing visual feedback of musical and effect parameters. A simplified remote Konsole is available to all SYNK users worldwide and will be activated during all Plastikman Live performances.

But the SYNK experience is not limited to participants of the live show. In between the performances the SYNK application is in sleeper mode and function as a Plastikman atmospheric location shifter built on a very similar concept to RJDJ’s augmented/reactive music model. By using visualizations inspired by Derivative, combined with the iPhone’s built-in microphone and accelerometer, users are immersed in a Plastikman environment.

Immersion Drama

How storytelling and narratives are changing in a digitally connected world, at The Book Club in Shoreditch, tonight.

Guests for the night are Dan Hon, co-founder of award-winning multi-platform storytellers Six To Start, who have made everything from treasure hunts for the band Muse to Channel 4’s social networking game/cautionary tale Smokescreen; Jade Tidy, producer of episodic murder-mystery PS3 game Blue Toad Murder Files; and Tim Jones, producer at interactive theatre troupe Coney, who created the ‘play without actors’ A Small Town Anywhere as well as the forthcoming 3D-audio game Papa Sangre.

Head over here to buy tickets.

Mars 500 – Life in the isolation chamber

Mars500 is an international study about the possible interplanetary spaceflights and will conduct in 2010-2011 the first ever full duration simulation of a manned flight to Mars.

Mars-500 is a multi-part ground-based experiment located at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow, Russia. A total of 640 experiment days, divided into three stages have been scheduled. During each stage, the crew of volunteers live and work in a mockup spacecraft. Communication with the outside world is limited and has a simulated 20 minutes delay. Supply of consumables is limited.

When preparing for long space missions beyond the six-month range currently undertaken by Expedition crews on the International Space Station (ISS), medical and psychological aspects become an issue of major importance.

When contemplating missions beyond Low Earth Orbit, such as to the Moon and Mars, daily crew life and operational capabilities may be affected by the hazardous space environment, the need for full autonomy and resourcefulness, the isolation, the interaction with fellow crewmembers and other aspects.

A better understanding of these aspects is essential for development of the elements necessary for an exploration mission. Whereas research onboard the ISS is essential for answering questions concerning the possible impact of weightlessness, radiation and other space-specific factors, other aspects such as the effect of long-term isolation and confinement can be more appropriately addressed via ground-based simulations.

The purpose of the Mars500 study is to gather data, knowledge and experience to help prepare for a real mission to Mars. Obviously there will be no effect of weightlessness, but the study will help to determine key psychological and physiological effects of being in such an enclosed environment for such an extended period of time.

The participants act as subjects in scientific investigations to assess the effect that isolation has on various psychological and physiological aspects, such as stress, hormone regulation and immunity, sleep quality, mood and the effectiveness of dietary supplements.

The knowledge gained during the study is invaluable in providing the basis for the potential development of countermeasures to deal with any unwanted side effects of such a mission, and also to help in astronaut selection procedures, and at a modest expense.

On the European side, the Mars500 programme is financed from the European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences in Space (ELIPS) and involves scientists from across Europe.

In order to simulate a mission to Mars, six candidates (three Russian, two European and one Chinese) will be sealed in an isolation chamber. This group will be chosen to encompass working experience in many fields, including medicine, engineering, biology and computer engineering.

Part of the chamber simulates the spacecraft that would transport them on their journey to and from Mars and another part will simulate the landing module that would transfer them to and from the martian surface.

Following the completion of an initial 105-day isolation period in 2009, a full 520-day study will be carried out. Candidates for this test began their mission training in February 2010 and the beginning of the isolation period is planned for June 2010.

Once sealed into the chamber, the candidates will have only personal contact with each other plus voice contact with a simulated control centre and family and friends as would normally happen in a human spaceflight mission. A 20-minute delay will be built into communications with the control centre to simulate an interplanetary mission and the crew will be given an identical diet to that used for the International Space Station.

As with a human spaceflight mission, the crew will be free to take certain personal items, as well as being supplied with books, films, personal laptops and can occupy themselves with physical exercise or their own studies.

During the isolation period the candidates will be simulating all elements of the Mars mission, travelling to Mars, orbiting the planet, landing and return to Earth.

The crew will have to be self-reliant, and organise a great deal of their daily tasks. They will be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the health and psychological states of themselves and each other, monitoring and controlling and maintaining systems, including life support, control resource consumption, carry out standard and non-standard cleaning and maintenance, as well as fulfilling scientific investigations.

There will be a 7-day week in place with two days off with a rotational system in place to account for night shifts. Non-standard and emergency situations will also be simulated to determine the effect of a decrease in work capability, sickness, and also failures of the onboard systems and equipment.

During ‘Mars surface operations’ the crew will be divided into two groups of three people each. Once the first group exits to the martian surface, the hatch between the martian simulation module and the rest of the facility will be closed by the second group and opened again only when the Mars surface stay simulation has ended.

The facility:
four hermetically sealed interconnected habitat modules
one external module, ‘Martian surface’
total volume of the habitat modules is 550 m3.

During the mission:
the crew will be hermetically isolated
‘surface operations’ after 250 days the crew will be divided in half, three will move to the martian surface simulator and three will remain in the ‘spacecraft’
crew will live and work like astronauts on ISS
maintenance, scientific experiments and daily exercise.
a seven-day week, with two days off, except when special and emergency situations are simulated.
crew monitored and their psychological, medical and physical signs recorded
limited consumables
communication only via the Internet
connection disrupted and with a real-life like delay