The Aether Project / Transmutating the Real and the Ethereal

As a part of UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design (A.UD) advanced design studio course “Architectural Intelligence: Exploring Space as an Interactive Medium”, researchers Refik Anadol, Raman Mustafa, Julietta Gil and Farzad Mirshafiei created The Aether Project, an immersive interactive environment that seamlessly combines robotic actuation, formal transformation and real time projection mapping controlled by a sensory input device. The course lead by Guvenc Ozel, Technology Director of the new IDEAS platform of UCLA A.UD, in collaboration with Casey Reas, Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts, explored potential scenarios of architecture as a responsive, robotically actuated technology which undergoes spatial iterations triggered by sense based devices.

The evolution of technology reveals an aspiration to place mind into matter in order to create tools that are subservient yet autonomous from humans. Architecture as a form of technology does not exist outside of this cultural aspiration. Concurrently, experiments in sensing technology express this desire to transform architecture into an intelligent form of technology that can autonomously negotiate between the human body, human psyche, the environment and other physical and perceptual parameters.

Based on this premise, the Aether Project focuses on providing an immersive experience through real-time Leap Motion controlled system that synchronously aligns projection mapped visuals on a transforming surface geometry, both choreographed though robot movements. Thus, The Aether Project is designed to test the interaction between humans x robots, robot x robot, and the resulting recursive relationship between technology and human perception continuously.


University of California, Los Angeles
Architecture + Urban Design

Raman K. Mustafa
Refik Anadol
Julieta Gil
Farzad Mirshafiei

Güvenç Ozel
Casey Reas

“Back Here Alone”by Integral

Infinity Room – [TIEE] by Refik Anadol

Infinity’ is an immersive environment project by Refik Anadol. Project is an integral part of artist’s ongoing ‘Temporary Immersive Environment Experiments’ which is a research on audio/visual installations by using the state called immersion which is the state of consciousness where an immersant’s awareness of physical self is transformed by being surrounded in an engrossing environment; often artificial, creating a perception of presence in a non-physical world.

In this project ‘infinity’ chosen as a concept,a radical effort to deconstruct the framework of this illusory space and transgress the normal boundaries of the viewing experience to set out to transform the conventional flat cinema projection screen into a three dimensional kinetic and architectonic space of visualisation by using contemporary algorithms.

Light is the major element in the experiment, used to blur and interconnect the boundaries between the two realms actual/fictional and physical/virtual. It signifies the threshold between the simulacrum space created by the projection technology, and the physical space where the viewer stands. The experiments will discuss the inherent spatial qualities of immersive virtual environments and their effect on the embodied person. Through the presented framework, the experiments intends to question the relativity of perception and how it informs the apprehension of our surroundings. Rather than approaching the medium as a means of escape into some disembodied techno-utopian fantasy, projects sees itself as a means of return, i.e. facilitating a temporary release from our habitual perceptions and culturally biased assumptions about being in the world, to enable us, however momentarily, to perceive ourselves and the world around us freshly.

Room size: 4M x 4M x 4M
Medium: Four channel Audio/Visual Installation running on custom software. (Original experience: 14 Minutes, 7 algorithms.)

Exhibitied at Artnivo’s ’40 Meters 4 Walls 8 Cubes’ in collaboration with Istanbul Biennial at Zorlu Performing Art Center. November, 2015.

Thanks to: Sebnem Alp Akin, Alkan Eraltan, Kian Khiaban, Efsun Erkilic, Raman K. Mustafa, Zorlu Perfming Arts Center and Artnivo Teams.

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