When someone screams in real life, do they hear us in virtual reality? Do they want to?
The proliferation of networked online worlds has provided a small quota of the human race the option to seek refuge in utopian, less troubled imaginary lands. Rolling synthetic green pastures offer us respite from a planet undergoing exploitation and climate change. For those of us too firmly rooted in this material world to join them, how shall we communicate with them? In what way shall we lament their departure?
The essence of this piece is a large monolithic dark wall that is represented both in the real and virtual worlds. It is a one-way portal to the virtual world through which people can whisper their thoughts, scream their frustrations and convey regret without the privilege of reply. It is a wailing wall through which to mourn the loss of our humanity to the virtual network.
The wall in the real world consists of a 4m high by 5m wide painted construction made of wood. It houses 3 microphones evenly spaced along its length at head height and an equal number of loudspeakers positioned higher up the wall.
Speaking into the wall produces a decaying audio loop of the person's voice. The sound of the voice becomes more and more metallic and garbled as it fades away. This sound is then streamed across the internet where it can be heard both on a website (Turbulence) and in Second Life, where it is emitted from a corresponding virtual wall of similar size and appearance. Multiple people can speak into the wall to create a cacophony of lamentation.
TURBULENCE SERVER SPECS
The turbulence server will host an HTML/PHP page with an image of the wall and will offer streaming audio from the real-life installation. If there is the ability to capture video of the avatars inside Second Life this would be desired too, however this is probably unlikely. Audio streaming will probably need to be hosted offsite, on a dedicated streaming platform. If audio can be streamed reliably from the Turbulence server, then an Icecast streaming server will need to be installed.
The following techniques/products/programs/languages/toolkits
will be used in the project:
- PHP 5
- Possibly an Icecast streaming server
No special domain name will be required. If audio streaming is hosted off-site, the load on the Turbulence server will be minimal and monthly bandwith with be negligible.
An example streaming audio
hosting plan from www.serverroom.us :
- SHOUTcast Server 500
- 500 GB traffic
- Unlimited listeners
- $0.22 per GB of additional traffic
- 300 MB on-demand space
- Audio streams (mp3, Ogg Vorbis)
- Choice of SHOUTcast DNAS Server 1.9.7 or Icecast 2.3.1
A single shell/FTP account will need to be created on the server for administration.
ARS VIRTUA SPECS
The project will work within the existing Second Life structure, using scripting, objects and audio streaming. It would however be worthwhile to investigate the possibility of streaming video out of Second Life to the Turbulence website, though this is not a priority.
The Ars Virtua component will be an audio stream of activity from the real-life wall. The audio stream will be played at several points along the virtual wall. The real and virtual wall counterparts will be as identical in appearance as possible. This could be achieved by enlarging and printing the virtual wall's 2D image textures and pasting these onto the real wall in large format prints.
The virtual wall will be of a relatively simple geometry and therefore won't require too many Prims for its construction.
A single audio stream will be played on the wall. Audio streaming has been previously tested in Second Life.
HURET & SPECTOR GALLERY SPECS
The multiple audio inputs attached to the wall are sent to the inputs of a sound card connected to a computer. The audio is then processed, mixed internally and streamed across the internet either to a streaming relay provider or to an Icecast server on the Turbulence Server (if the bandwidth is sufficient).
Either a custom C++ program or a Pure Data patch will be used to loop the incoming audio and process it.
The dimensions on the piece are:
4 metres high X 5 metres long X 0.5 metres wide
The installation will require an internet connection. This will preferably be an ethernet cable.
The installation materials will consist of wood and paint for the construction of the wall. As it will be necessary to build the wall on-site a carpenter will therefore need to be hired. The estimated cost of the wall will be around $200 - calculated by approximately 10 m3 at $20 a cubic metre.
A recent computer with the Windows or Linux operating system will need to be either bought or hired. The system should have at least a 2GHz CPU and 1MB RAM. A sound card with at least 4 inputs will also be required.
Nothing will be suspended from the ceiling and the piece will be installed on-site by Pierre Proske. Installation is estimated to take 3-4 days, depending on the time it takes to build the wall.
Construction costs: $200
Computer purchase: $800
Sound card purchase: $300
Streaming services: $100 per month
TOTAL: $1300 + $100 per month
Travel costs for the artist to assist in the installation will be covered by additional external funding.
Pierre Proske - artist/programmer - 3D modelling, sound design, programming, aesthetics
Artem Baguinski - programmer/engineer - LSL scripting, audio streaming
Brigit Lichtenegger - programmer/engineer, technical consultant - LSL scripting, audio streaming
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