This week was very busy for most of the team as we entered midterms. However, there were a few important visits and events. On Monday we completed process grades with our advisors and discussed our progress so far this semester. We were also able to show our advisors several of the prototypes we had worked on over the weekend. One was a delay based instrument that allows the guest to place stones around them in space. Another created bass drum tones every time a guest moved their feet.
On Tuesday we had a meeting with a Gray Crawford who is currently pursuing a masters at CMUs HCII program. He was very interested in the new types of interfaces that VR might offer up. In worlds where gravity doesn’t exist, or where things can be stretched and manipulated, what does a UI look like. He is also working to create a prototype of a musical world within VR. While what he is working on is very different in spirit from our project, we loved getting to see what his take on this space.
Tuesday was also that day that we were able to get our budget for this project approved. This as been important to us because we were so interested in ambisonics. For this to work we have to provide an experience in which participants can manipulate sounds all around them, including above and below themselves. For this reason, we would like a system capable of generating a soundfield with horizontal and vertical reproduction. With our budget approved, we will now be able to project spatialized sound in an installation environment. In the meantime, Dave Purta has been helping us to set up and test ambisonic systems.
Before Spring Break kicked off we had one more meeting with an ETC faculty member. Dave Culyba had some excellent insights into the challenges we were facing and the next steps we would need to take. As much as we don’t like to think of what we are making as a creation tool, at its heart, it is. And, that is in direct conflict with our notion of it being performative. Performance is something you do after you finished creating, usually improvisers are the only ones who try to combine the two. Dave also recommended thinking of this experience as having three distinct phases. First the guests orient themselves, then they begin to explore and test the space. Finally they begin to use the tool and move into a mode of creation. Dave recommended that we consider each of these states as we continue to build out our final experience.