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exhibiting artists

ARTIST: Scott David

TITLE: Metamorphosis

photo of this piece installed at the Weird Science Real Genius fair earlier in 2007

MATERIALS: Garden furniture, artificial flowers, wearable multi-sensory enhancement and modification devices.

DIMENSIONS: 12' x 12' floor space

DATE: 2006

DESCRIPTION: "Metamorphosis" is a mini-environment (including wearable multi-sensory enhancement and modification devices and an environment providing sensory inputs) that will enable show participants to have a "virtual" experience of life as an insect. Participants will be asked to perform various tasks including feeding, seeking mates, and communicating in an assembled natural setting. The sensory inputs will all be "filtered" or "modified" so that they are the same as those that would be experienced by insects in their natural environment (such as reflected light from flowers and other food sources, the sound of wing beats of predators and prey and potential mates, and other necessities of daily insect life).

The installation is be comprised of a small "garden" with a trellised entrance and picket fence that attendees will enter, two at a time, to perform the assigned insect tasks. The garden is be open on all sides, and surrounded by bright flowers, so other show participants can observe the participants as they interact with the installation.

The apparatus and devices will modify the sensory inputs through the use of various electronic and other devices. Goggles fitted with special lenses will alter vision to match that of a butterfly or a honeybee. The participant will also don a hat that will contain the electronic apparatus needed to both receive ultrasound and to transmit ultrasound at frequencies similar to those detected by insects. A fake proboscis will be mounted on each hat to enable each participant to "feed" on provided nectar and pollen.

STATEMENT: Our ability to shift between different sensory systems and the corresponding paradigm shifts that this entails, will be increasingly challenged as technologies offer multiple levels of access to our world that will be selectable, much as channels are selected now on broadcast TV. This project explores the perceptual effects and aesthetic tension that exists at the moment of such shifts, and how the different perceptual experiences exert a continuing, but dissipating influence on one another after a shift occurs as the brain adapts to the new perceptual construct.

Technologies are increasingly relying upon biological systems to provide insights into solutions for a variety of design problems. Bio-mimicry represents the lifting of biological concepts to apply them in a new context. This project represents a reversal of this process where the participant is, instead, surrounded with synthetic versions of biological systems which are configured to allow the participant to directly experience the sensory "information" in its original context as it is perceived and used by an insect.

Technologies are expanding our sensory ability, but immersive virtual experiences remain elusive and expensive. Short of altering the brain, immersive virtual experiences need to engage one or more of the senses. To be truly immersive, a virtual environment must present an entirely seamless conversion of all sensory input to be in a form that is consistent with the intended simulation. Through its use of various electronic and physical devices and apparatus, the project seeks to insert a "filter" between the participant's sensory systems and the external sensory inputs, without resort to higher tech computer simulations. The project is intended to capitalize on the fact that humans perceive the world with their "brains" rather than their senses, to deliver an immersive virtual experience that takes maximum advantage of existing human sensory systems and the brain's ability to knit together the story based on the alteration of selected sensory cues.

Scott David
Bainbridge Island, WA
scott.david AT


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