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Chapter 17. Immersed in Unfolding Complex Systems

Lance Putnam

Graham Wakefield

Haru Ji

Basak Alper

Dennis Adderton

JoAnn Kuchera-Morin

Our Multimodal Arena

What would it be like to walk into a real-life "Holodeck" or "Cerebro" and experience a stunning new world unlike anything seen before? Beyond this, what if we were able to experience hitherto unobservable aspects of nature, as environments into which the body cannot actually venture? In fact, these questions are on the minds of scientists and artists working together, right now, in the AlloSphere located in the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. We have in our hands an instrument that allows us to explore and interact with complex, high-dimensional data and systems—whether they be subatomic particles, the human brain, or entire synthetic ecosystems—as if they were fully immersive worlds.

The AlloSphere is one of the largest scientific/artistic instruments/laboratories in the world for immersive visualization, sonification, and multimodal data manipulation. It is a three-story sphere finely tuned for perceptual experiences with a 360-degree, super-black, nonreflective screen surrounded by a multichannel loudspeaker array, all housed in an echo-free chamber (see Figure 17-1). Multiple users standing on the central bridge (Figure 17-2) can interact through myriad multimodal devices as they experience stereographic projections and spatial audio.

Figure 17-1. A virtual real-scale model of the ...

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