The Plant Room: Immersive Installation

Interactive Emerging Media Installation


In this immersive installation digital captures of nature are transformed by algorithms into hybrid new forms which are experienced via sound and projected image. Existing only for a few minutes, these entities then disappear forever leaving only a residue of their short life. Sensors trigger the transformation just as humans inadvertently trigger an unintended change in ecological systems simply by turning up.

Each experience in the space is unique, – generated through the interactions between sound, image and complex algorithms. Natural objects are transformed through unique re-compilations each time the space is entered or new movements occur. Synthesised sounds are associated and created by each image generated and shared via audio-exciters (audio transducers) as well as traditional speakers.

In ‘The Plant Room’ strange new things are made and remade. What emerges is not in our control.

Like all AwhiWorld’s work, this installation is site-specific and designed specifically to support the spirit of place, in this case, the work was specifically created for Whangarei Art Museum – WAM (Northland NZ’s Regional Gallery) and supports the nearby Whangarei CBD. The flora images are captured in and around central Whangarei (Botanica – the regional botanical gardens, Calfer Park and Laurie Hall Park)). With new uploads of content every few months. Flora is used as a spiritual connection point between WAM and the surrounding city.

That said, the next generation of content in The Plant Room has been sourced from inside COVID-19 bubbles with families sending in content to be processed remotely and uploaded to form the latest iteration of the work.

Open source and maker cultural objects, codes and practices underpin the practice behind the work and inform the choices of materials and technologies used. The Plant Room celebrates emerging ecologies where rigid concepts of digital, physical and spiritual are in flux.

Technically, Kim Newall – Creative Technologist – used Raspberry Pi computers (with attached micro-cameras) to pick up movement and request the main computer (via the different algorithms) to generate an image and choose or generate a sound.  

Coding languages used in this work are Pure Data (for the sound), Processing (for the image conversion), Python/Open CV (for the cameras) and Open Sound Control (OSC) to mesh these different processes together at meta-level. Linux is the underlying computer operating system.

The exhibition ran from December 2019 to October 2020. A talk about the work is available here.

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