Dr. Sarah Jane Pell has been driven by a unique and inspired vision: to create underwater cinematic and human performance tools to transform new media, choreographic and immersive media potentials. Imagine a future with accelerating full-bodied proprioceptive education and training in neutral buoyancy with underwater VR & surround cinematic technologies.
By designing underwater cinematic experience for immersive education and 3D virtual reality training in neutral bouyancy conditions, Liquid Uni is both addressing grand engineering challenges in VR, and accelerating full-bodied proprioceptive education and industry training capabilities.
Human::H2O::media asks what human media interactions are possible now underwater and what can be designed and imagined as future capabilities for infusing informatics and media organically with our bodies and our oceans and waterways?
The interest in Human::H2O::media began with the vision of an inverted underwater planetarium. Pell visited the Italian Space Agency ALTEC Neutral Buoyancy Test Facility in 2008 to consult on the feasibility of VR integration in the helmets astronauts for in-water training. She then spent 18 months daily repetitive-bounce diving in black water stained by the tannins of the Gordon-Franklin World Heritage Wilderness Area and recognized the increased awareness of her propriorceptive capability independent of being able to see. By imagining the sensation of floating underwater amongst the stars screened from an e-cave surrounding the body in water, Pell postulates a heightened proprioceptive awareness relating to scale and the infinity of space and thus the potential to build additional “body memory” in this learning environment.
It was Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s interest in scuba diving that inspired the use of underwater EVA training to simulate weightlessness, which has been used since 1966 to allow astronauts to practice techniques of avoiding wasted muscle energy. Freedivers, commercial divers, aquanauts and aquatic artists specifically train to heighten proprioceptive sensitivity and reflex. It is in their interests to broaden “one’s own” perception of the body as a “body of water” for the purpose of extending physical performance capabilities, survival and approaching the raptures of the deep. For these water-babes, the limits of the ‘self’ extends well beyond their own limbs to encompass an environmental awareness and a state of being that is inseparable from the flow and dynamics of the water that they are buoyed. This mirrors the transformative potentials of information connectivity.
Using this strategy, the visual technology platform could be adapted for an infinite array of immersive experiences. Exploring a coral reef without disrupting the benthic ecosystem is a great example. To this end, Human::H2O::media is as much about developing a tool kit as it is creatively exploring socio-political ideas. The residency will consider both the form and content of the vision and its manifestation: e.g. exploring underwater projection – and how to address challenges in light attenuation; designing for lasers or infrared; water-proofed computer screen-technology embedded into a flexible underwater domed material; neutral buoyancy positioning controls; virtual reality integration; haptic motion feedback; underwater “live” telepresence and the potentials for directly using the computational properties of water itself for future ‘transmission’.
Human::H2O::media is a testing ground – weaving speculative design thinking into a more comprehensive, longer-term research project with suitable industry partners and prototype proposals in preparation for an ARC Synapse Linkage program.
"When a hitherto portion of the Earth or of some zone foreign to human existence is suddenly rendered accessible by reason of a new means of transport or the overcoming of some elemental or other natural condition inimical to human life, then every corner of a man's mind susceptible to enthusiasm or accumulated curiosity is aroused to the highest pitch." William Beebe, 1934 half mile under the sea.