A digital art installation aims to create virtual landscapes based on real-time Melbourne weather data – inside the State Library Victoria.
The installation allows people to step out of the heart of the city in to a peaceful natural habitat that highlights different ecosystems around Victoria.
It runs for two weeks from 5 June, providing an oasis of calm for students on swot vac or taking exams.
New media artist and RMIT researcher John Power has created "Locus Amoenus: a place of delight" using a data-feed from the Bureau of Meteorology to simulate the passage of the day in Melbourne.
The digital art installation uses real-time 3D graphics and surround sound to build an immersive ambient space to enable calm and focus.
Power, from RMIT’s School of Media and Communication, said: “I was inspired to use digital media to recreate some of the de-stressing and reorientation that we can feel when we are out in nature or looking out to the horizon.
“Being in nature has a naturally restorative and relaxing effect on humans. While a digital simulation cannot reproduce all those effects, we’ve found that it can make a positive contribution to those who spend a lot of their time in a built-up urban environment.
State Library Victoria CEO, Kate Torney, said: “This is an innovative use of immersive technology that transports people from the city to peaceful natural habitats from around Victoria.
“At this time of year the library is full of students preparing for exams and essays – it is a stressful time for them. We hope this installation will help to relieve some of that stress during their long study hours.”
Power said: “This interdisciplinary research combines new media art practice with digital ethnography and is designed to contribute to understanding ways to enhance the social effects of digital screens in public spaces.
“Unlike many digital screens in public spaces, this installation is designed not to ‘demand’ an audience’s attention. The moving images and sounds are created to augment the space in such a way that it can help those present to find calm and focus.
“In this way, this installation will be of help to students, researchers, city workers or anyone who would like to take a mental break at any time during the day.
“The installation has shown a strong effect, for example, on those who come to sit and watch the sunset, as it moves slowly in exact synchrony with the actual Melbourne sunset.”
Power will be investigating what kind of impact the installation has on Library visitors and feeding it back into his PhD research.
He has been supported in this project by RMIT colleagues in CiART (Creative Interventions, Art and Rehabilitative Technologies Lab), DERC (Digital Ethnography Research Centre), Centre for Game Design Research), VX Lab (Virtual Experience Laboratory) and SIAL (Spatialised Information Architecture) sound lab.
The installation is part of the State Library Victoria’s public programs.
Story: David Glanz
Images: John Power