Conversations@the Studio presents an innovative mixed-reality narrative model of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Decorative Arts collection within a uniquely designed Intelligent Interactive Information Environment. It takes the natural navigation of a real world situation – a contemporary Glass Studio – as its point of departure, using this as a framework for organizing a set of narrative formations that further elaborate the thematics of the collection. By visualising a 360 degree global video recording, made on location at the Glass Studio, it provides the telepresent experience of an actual visit to the Studio, giving full interactive freedom to the viewer’s gaze.
This project aims to dramatically enhance the presentational flexibility of museum information delivery through the application of an immersive system of cinematic visualisation, modelling the integration of three kinds of interactive narrative. By allocating selective agency to both objects displayed and to viewers within a virtual environment, the system allows museum visitors to invest even static artefacts with a range of vivid narrative purpose. This project has been adjusted to accommodate the fact that only 50% of the requested ARC budget was awarded. This has necessitated a concentration on the experimental demonstrator for the Powerhouse Museum and web site evaluating and documenting the study. It has also necessitated a simplification of the original model whereby the presence of narrative agents within the IIIE has been replaced by an interaction strategy where the multilayered narrative extensions are embedded within the global video recording. This is articulated by multiple audio streams, and by conjunctions between the global scene and close-up sequences that detail the glass handling process.
Conversations@the Studio sets a new museological multi-media benchmark. Its interactive and immersive frameworks allow the viewer to experience themselves present in a distant space where artists are engaged in their daily creative craft making activities. They can move their gaze freely anywhere in the live performance space whose unedited real time narration converges with the real time engagement of the viewer. This space-time continuum between the local (Powerhouse Museum) and remote (glass studio) location enables the viewer to achieve an immediacy of experience that has hitherto not been achievable in multi-media exhibits. This is reinforced by the dynamic surround sound reproduction of the glass studio environment that is sensitive to the virtual position of the viewer’s gaze. A key feature of Conversations@the studio is the dynamic tracking of the viewer’s gaze in both space and time that visually magnifies specific events of interest. This polychronic cinematic operability gives the viewer a multi-visual faculty that moves seamlessly between an apprehension of the total active space and the amplification of its significant details. The movement is further emphasised by the viewer’s freedom to move between the live ambient surround sound recording made in that space, and the focussed commentaries of the glass studio artists which refer to specific processes and events that are unfolding.