UVA’s High Arctic

United Visual Artist’s puts out some fantastic work. One only has to look at Origin and Coachella to realize that they are pretty much at the cutting edge of blended technologies. I came across their piece “High Arctic” recently and had to show it off. This was from an install at the National Maritime Museum in the UK (man there are some really great installs that happen there…) that ran from July until this past January.

The installation is based on UVA Creative Director Matt Clark’s Cape Farewell expedition to Svalbard which he took with Nick Drake in September 2010 and fragments of ‘The Farewell Glacier’, a commissioned poem by Nick Drake, work together with the visual to create an immersive experience. High Arctic invites visitors to explore a vast abstracted arctic landscape made with sculptures, light and sound. Using a UV torch to interact with animations, visitors will discover 3000 glaciers that will have melted by the end of this century and be confronted with human impact to this environment over the course of history. Set in the 2100AD, High Arctic is a monument to an Arctic past which invites us to think about human impact in the Arctic region and contemplate its fragility, its beauty, and its scale. Gear for accomplishing this very cool (pun intended) install included 11 Panasonic PT-D6000EK with ET-DLE80 lenses, 10 Kramer Fiber optic 610 R/T, and 25 Source Four Junior zooms. UVA’s in-house tool (D3) is the main ‘glue’ for this process, however a multitude of other tools were used to explore the various iterations of the physical and digital build. These included, various scale models built in polystyrene, lego, 3D renderings and a full scale pool mock up built on the ground floor of the UVA studio. Likewise, various tools were written or integrated into D3’s existing capabilities to

produce generative content for the interactive pools; Houdini (Houdini Ocean Toolkit) for producing realistic source wave depth maps, SVG handling, dither pixel shaders, video sprite management, openCV (for contour finding), a port of Memo’s Navier Stokes fluid algorithm, box2D, particle systems, lens & shift correction algorithms. Making the physical sculpture integrate with the digital projection pools was important for creating a more seamless landscape. CAD designs were imported into D3 to allow the testing of various physical setups with generative content before fabrication of the columns.

Interaction is made up of ten Basler GigE with various cut and pass filters, plus 250 UV torches. The system builds upon existing D3 libraries for multi-camera 2D & 3D tracking. Lighting is created with Source4’s plus Martin Tripix strips, controlled by D3. The physical build incorporates hundreds of columns with UV reactive paint, a 40m stretched mirror and a good amount of timber and metal. 58 channels of generative and pre-composed audio are managed by Super Collider, Max/MSP and Apple Logic, which give a constantly evolving narrative across the room. The installation is run by a cluster of six D3 machines. A mix of custom protocols, web services and OSC integrate the various components. Coding for D3 is in C++, HLSL & Python.

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