Art NotesArts & Culture

“BitDome” and “Roy G. Biv 8.2” Offer Interactive Art Experiences

Light Therapy: The Lyndon House Arts Center is currently exhibiting two technology-based projects, an exciting venture into a realm of artwork seldom on view in the gallery. Initially inspired by a trip to Seoul, South Korea, Zane Cochran designed “BitDome,” an immersive installation in the shape of a geodesic dome that combines technology and art for an interactive light simulation incorporating music, meditation and games. 

“In Seoul, all the technology seemed to have a personality and complimented every aspect of the Korean lifestyle. That got me thinking about what it would be like if I created an immersive space where people were completely surrounded by technology that was sensitive to their presence and movements,” says Cochran. “In fact the ‘Bit’ in ‘BitDome’ has a double meaning. An obvious meaning has to do with a computer bit, which relates to the complex processing that drives the technology behind the experience. However, a more subtle meaning comes from a word borrowed from Korean that sounds like ‘bit.’ In Korean, this means light and inspiration. Given that the ‘BitDome’ is a place that aims to stimulate visitors’ minds while being surrounded by interactive lights, I thought this was a fitting name.”

Cochran, a Georgia Tech graduate student studying human-centered computing and industrial design, began developing the “BitDome” two years ago as part of his research at HackBerry Lab, a creative technology space at Berry College. The first prototype was constructed out of foam insulation paneling and duct tape, and has since evolved into the current 10-foot geodesic dome structure made from PVC and smart RGB LEDs controlled by a software program that interfaces with an XBox Kinect in order to track users’ movements.

Every Tuesday the “BitDome” will rotate to a new program for visitors to experience. The dome is currently set to an interactive game called “Ouroboros,” and will move on to light simulation “Solstice” on July 22, interactive game “Pakkuman” on July 29, interactive art “Light Paint” on Aug. 5 and interactive game “Invaders” on Aug. 12. “Some of the interactions encourage people to relax and ponder, while others, namely the games, require the users to move through the space with a sense of purpose,” says Cochran. 

Previous versions of the “BitDome” have been featured during Georgia Tech’s TechArts Festival and the Confluence technology conference in Rome, GA. Visitors may also recognize Cochran’s work from “Cortex,” an immersive, enclosed sphere co-created with Harrison Daniels that was recently exhibited at Creature Comforts Brewery as part of the Slingshot Festival. As an evolution of the “BitDome,” “Cortex” featured a much higher resolution through the use of projectors as opposed to individual LEDs, creating a physically removed, 360-degree environment for visitors to step into and interact with. 

“I am currently working on an installation that I hope to exhibit at Lyndon House later this summer that uses 1,024 RGB LEDs—as opposed to the ‘BitDome”s 61—that will prompt visitors to consider their point of view when observing the installation,” says Cochran. “If all goes well, it should be ready in time for the MakerFest on Aug. 9 in Athens. Fingers crossed.”

Color Theory: Conceptualized by Lyndon House Curator of Exhibitions Nancy Lukasiewicz, “Roy G. Biv 8.2” is an interactive visual art experience that utilizes technology not as a tool for simply producing artwork, but as the medium itself. Participants are invited to select colors off of the eight touch screens lining the wall, which serve as digital palettes. Each touch screen relays the chosen colors to a projected video, allowing participants to collaborate in creating live, geometric color arrangements that constantly change.

A special reception for the installation will be hosted by Didi Dunphy, the new Lyndon House Supervisor, on Thursday, July 17 from 6–8 p.m. Dunphy, who also currently serves as the exhibition curator for the Classic Center and the Gallery@Hotel Indigo, is highly involved in the contemporary arts, having worked as a nationally exhibited artist and designer as well as in arts administration and education.

A year in the making, “Roy G. Biv 8.2” was made possible through a national leadership grant that the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded to the Center and the Athens Regional Library System. Though the installation’s layout appears remarkably clean and simple, the assistance of several organizations—including Tiger Direct, View Sonic, Corum Digital Corporation, Media Tile, Wooten Digital Systems and Atlanta Pro AV—was required in its logistical planning and development.

Summer of Love: The rest of the Lyndon House is of course occupied by the Art Rocks Athens Foundation’s “Paper Covers Rock” graphic arts exhibition, a treasure trove of concert flyers, posters, album and magazine covers, photographs and memorabilia documenting the crossroads between the Athens art and music scenes between 1975–1985. A free gallery tour and discussion, led by Lukasiewicz, will be held on Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m., two days before the exhibit closes.