Or, Aurora is an interactive audio-visual installation that investigates our changing relationship with natural phenomena. Set up in an enclosed corner of the gallery, it presents the viewer with a set of stones and electronic components. Several of the stones have been equipped with electronics (digital magnetometers and microcrontrollers) that detect their orientation. As the viewer moves the stones, a projector in the corner throws arcs of color across the walls and ceiling.
The goal of the piece was to investigate the urge to either recreate or re-present fantastic natural forces. I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights, but I've never had the opportunity to. In the past year, I've been exposed to both Disneyland and Las Vegas, both of which recreate distant places and experiences in a spectacular and digestible way. Much art and many virtual environments attempt to do the same. So much of the attraction of these places and work is the very fact that they are man-made– we wonder at the devices and the quality of their simulation as opposed to the beauty of the thing they're recreating. Or, Aurora presents the viewer with a simulacrum while making apparent its artifice. Using magnetometers on the rocks alludes to the natural forces that create the actual Aurora, and the interaction between the projections and the users reflects the spiritual relationship cultures have had to the lights over the centuries.
The piece is created with Moteinos (tiny Arduino clones) and digital magnetometers (compasses) attached to the rocks, which transmit orientation data back to another Moteino connected to a computer behind the installation. a Max patch interprets the incoming information, creates tones based on the amount of movement in the rocks and sends OSC messages to an OpenFrameworks application that creates the visuals.