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The BODY ELECTRIC exhibit featuring a visitor viewing their avatar on one of the exhibit's screens.
  Photo Credit: Courtesy of Art Center College of Design
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    BODY ELECTRIC: An exhibit by Malcolm MacIver and Simon Penny

You walk through a dark tunnel into a lightless room when sight and sound awaken your senses. You are bathed in visual and acoustic activity, signals that represent both your presence and the presence of a virtual “entity” sharing the 12-foot cube with you. At first, you can see this entity, but soon you must move through the space to find and interact with it using more indirect cues; your experience is similar to the sensory perception of weakly-electric fish.

In front of and behind you are your avatars, helping you sense your place in the environment. The avatars are vaguely-outlined splashes of color shaped roughly like you, and your body regions change in hue each time the entity draws near. Speakers at all eight corners of the room immerse you in spatialized sound that varies in position, pitch, and volume as the entity “swims” closer.

BODY ELECTRIC is a collaboration between Simon Penny, an artist, professor of arts and engineering, and director of the Arts, Computation and Engineering graduate program at the University of California at Irvine and Malcolm MacIver, a mechanical engineering postdoctoral scholar at Caltech who studies the sensory systems of fish that use weak electric fields to “see” the world around them. In their exhibit, the collaborators show that perception is not necessarily passive; it can be an active, driving force.

For further details, see MacIver/Penny under the “projects” heading on the NEURO website:

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