Isaac Rudomin, Marissa Diaz, Benjamín Hernández, and Daniel Rivera

ITESM-CEM, Atizapán, Mexico


"Fluids" is an interactive and immersive mixed reality art installation that explores the relation of intimacy between reality and virtuality. We live in two different but connected worlds: our physical environment and virtual space. In this paper we discuss how we integrated them by using water and air as interfaces. We also discuss how we designed mechanisms for natural and subtle navigation between and within the different environments of the piece, how we designed the environments and the installation so as to take advantage of the low cost alternatives that are available today.

1 Introduction

In this paper we explore "Fluids", an interactive and immersive mixed reality art installation that uses water and air as interfaces. It explores the relation of intimacy between reality and virtuality, two different but connected worlds. Mixed reality and tangible interfaces have been proposed as ways to close the gap between atoms and bits [1,2]. We attempt to integrate them by using water waves and air temperature as interfaces, as well as a natural navigation system using proximity sensors. We think that this approach, rather than the purely visual approach of traditional mixed reality, or even the use of solid objects enhanced with computation, as traditionally has been done in tangible interfaces, can be very fruitful. Fluids thus become interfaces, by way of custom designed, inexpensive devices based on the measurement of luminous or infrared radiation.

When interacting with water we perceive flow, texture, temperature [3], sound. Used as interface, water allows for a high level of immersion by involving several senses. It is a known fact of the biological sensory system that the temperature of water, for example, can be seen by using MRI to activate the parietal lobe. By touching water, we are in fact changing cyberspace from a dry world of mere pixels into a moist, wet place much like the real world [4]. Ever since the 60's, art has been incorporating the participation of the public as part of the artistic work, in particular in the form of happennings, performance and installations. Work by "Fluxus" being one of the most representative of the time. By the 90's, with the emergence of interactive art, technology that include the public as part of the piece. In this context, the work of Char Davies [5] being very important in that it introduced breathing for virtual navigation.

When we breathe we interact in one most intimate ways with the world. One can see this in Char Davies's work mentioned above. This we attempt to do in a different way, however, trying to avoid encumbering the user with vests or using the diving metaphor. By using a temperature measuring device, a kind of microphone, but isolated from extraneous noise, the interface becomes one with the user.



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5. C. Davies, "Landscape, Earth, Body, Being, Space and Time in the Immersive Virtual Environments Osmose and Ephémère", in Women, Art, and Technology, Judy Malloy, ed. London, England: The MIT Press (2003), pp. 322-337

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Last verified: August 1st 2013.