Whirlpool of Lights

An art project seeking to convince viewers to appreciate space and forgotten architecture

Using immersive Augemented Reality (AR) technology (HoloLens) to create a particle system which guides the viewer's gaze to remarkable locations in an unremarkable room. Taking inspiration from Doug Wheeler and and James Turrell in their treatment of art as an experience in space.

The user is free to walk around the space, but as they move to intercept particles, the particles will halt and avoid the viewer, remaining just out of arm's reach. Particles disappear when they pass behind physical objects and appear from the floor.

The goal of this project was to alter the nature of how technology causes us to interact with the world. We are familiar with the isolating effect of technology - we hunch over our phones and lean into our computer screens, spending less time looking around and more time looking down. Immersive display headsets provide an opportunity to do the opposite - encouraging us to look up and around in our environment, taking note of things we could all to easily ignore when glued to our phones. Interaction techniques in the age of AR will cause a radical shift in our understanding of spatial computing and provide new avenues of comprehension. It is my hope that this technology can be guided in a way that revitalizes old values of connecting and responding to your surroundings.

Class Recording.mp4

Technical Details

Unity3D, C#: Use of particle system and gravitational fields, adding tangential velocity to the instantiation of particles in addition to a spinning gravitational center. In order to make things more visually interesting, I added a noise pattern which changes over time. The noise pattern is mapped to both the size and the movement of the particles. The size is more obvious, as the particles will sometimes disappear and come back. The movement is very subtle as I didn’t want to ruin the whirling effect.

Mixed Reality: Spatial Perception using calculated room mesh to determine spawn location for particles and to have physical objects occluding these particles.