Visualizing, hearing and exploring complex multi-dimensional data provides insight that is essential for progress in a number of critical areas of science and engineering, where the amount and complexity of the data overwhelm traditional computing environments. The need for richer and more compelling visualizations continues to receive attention from many practitioners and institutions.
To face some of these contemporary demands, composer JoAnn Kuchera-Morin and her team have been working on one of the largest scientific and artistic instruments in the world. Based at UCSB, the AlloSphere is a 30-foot diameter sphere built inside a 3-story near-to-anechoic (echo free) cube that allows for synthesis, manipulation, exploration and analysis of large-scale data sets in an environment that can simulate virtually real sensorial perception. It is a physical place designed to facilitate creativity and incubate ideas via collaboration. Researchers find a multitude of interactive interfaces for research into: scientific visualization, numerical simulations, data mining, visual/aural abstract data representations, knowledge discovery, systems integration, human perception, and many other areas of inquiry. Although originally planned in 2001, the AlloSphere was only physically completed in February of 2007.
Scientifically, it is an instrument for gaining insight and developing bodily intuition about environments into which the body cannot venture: abstract, higher-dimensional information spaces, the worlds of the very small or very large, and the realms of the very fast or very slow, in fields ranging from nanotechnology to theoretical physics, from proteomics to cosmology, from neurophysiology to the spaces of consciousness, and from new materials to new media.
Artistically, the AlloSphere is an instrument for the creation and performance of avant-garde new works and the development of entirely new modes and genres of expression and forms of immersion-based entertainment, fusing future art, architecture, music, media, games, cinema, and more.
You can see composer JoAnn Kuchera-Morin demoing some of AlloSphere's features at TED.