Bloom is the culmination of a large-scale practice-based research collaboration under the collective umbrella of Squidoup. This iterative research process of over 2 years additionally includes two previous outputs - Remembrance and Field. These three research outputs are themselves all part of a larger ongoing critical collaboration with Rowe and Birtles of over 8 years, using an action-research methodology to continuously create and test various hypotheses and strategies for the affective qualities of mixed reality environments (i.e. spaces that incorporate physical and digital content in combined, collective socio-technological experiences).
This particular research trajectory extends Bennewith's previous research focused on the development of interactive, but centrally controlled, visualisation systems through the development of an autonomous, de-centralised, self-regulating array of physical pixels in space. The work extends the pioneering insights of Gordon Pask into self-organising systems.
Bennewith's contribution to the collaborative research process was initially conceptualising the experience for Remembrance and Field, iteratively developing and testing the hardware required to create all three outputs and devising the "visual language" for the new system to elicit desired responses from an audience.
This research process, captured progressively in these three works, resulted in the development of bespoke autonomous hardware units, each one independent and responsive, yet able to "communicate" with the network of pixels of which it is part; an accompanying networking and software system through which the hardware can communicate, and a new visual language for the system. This new and novel immersive visualisation system allows the conception of unique audience experiences. Bloom and Field have been disseminated at numerous national/international light festivals and the hardware was used in an innovative form of memorialisation, commissioned for New Zealand's WW100 commemorations and the UK's arts programme for the First World War centenary, 14-18 NOW.
From left, Dr Anthony Rowe, Gareth Bushell and Professor Chris Bennewith with their work, Submergence. Credit: Paul Blakemore
Squidsoup is an international group of artists, researchers and designers (UK/NO/NZ) working with digital and interactive media experiences. Our work combines sound, physical space and virtual worlds to produce immersive and emotive headspaces where participants can take an active role in their experience. We explore the modes and effects of interactivity, looking to make digitally mediated experiences where meaningful and creative interaction can occur.
Find out more about the collective's work at http://www.squidsoup.org/