Sculpture makes cyberworld real

An interactive digital sculpture project will bring Ball University’s wireless network infrastructure to life for all to see and hear.

Preparations are being made to bring the unseen world of Ball University's (IN) wireless network into visual manifestation, reports Campus Technology. On April 18 and 19, four huge projection screens, cameras, computers, speakers, lights, and carillon bells will be incorporated in a multimedia experience showing traffic on the 15 wireless zones on campus, including the activity of local participants using their handheld Wi-Fi wireless devices to interact with the outdoor sculpture in real time. Of course, web visitors can access live streaming video remotely from 8:00-11:00pm EDT each night of the event.

 “This project is an effort to provide personalization of the network. A network is like a huge ‘noun’ out there—just a thing—and our idea was to find out how we could make our network a ‘verb’ and get people to interact with it. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to actually visualize a person’s location and sense on the network?’ That would give the network more meaning and value to the individual; they could relate to it on a personal level and say, ‘I’m over here! I’m involved!’” explains Ball State’s Associate Vice President for Information Technology Phil Repp.
To bring all this together requires a fair amount of state-of-the-art techno-gadgetry—  Apple G5 computers with Cycling 74’s Max/MSP and Jade will cycle the sound and video processed with a MIDI interface, Apple’s Motion software and and Jitter drawing from graphical elements representing both historical data and live interactions. Sound will be created and processed with the Tassman application, by Applied Acoustic Systems, using both synthesized sounds and a sampling of audio streams from the Internet.

After the intial event, the scupture will live permanently as a series of wall-mounted plasma screens. Repp hopes that the project can give users, a new view of the network: “I would venture to say that this is also giving us in IT new ways to look at and organize data showing activity on the network.”