Project Aesel: Re-Thinking Public Art

You’re walking into a stadium with a crowd of people, a few days after buying a ticket to a vaguely-described show which simply promises a musical and visual experience like you have never encountered before. As you hand your ticket to the attendant, you are given back a pair of glasses and told that you will need them for the performance. You walk in and put the glasses on.

To your surprise, nothing happens. You can see right through the glasses, and nothing looks any different. As you find your seat, you wonder if maybe you got a defective pair.

A few minutes go by, and finally the lights go down and a silence falls over the crowd. A cheer is raised as the musician comes on stage, and, to your surprise, you notice another individual is up there with them. Before you can start to question what it is they are doing there, however, you find out why you needed the glasses.

Both the musician and the other individual put on their own pairs of glasses, and raise their hands slowly. As they do, a series of images, videos, graphs, numbers, and symbols raises out of the stage in front of them, seemingly hanging in mid-air. The two artists simultaneously begin by slowly touching a simple symbol.

At that moment, the entire arena begins to shift and change. As music begins to fill the air, you notice that parts of the walls are beginning to vibrate with the music. As it builds, a series of transparent, blue, glowing shapes come out of the ceiling and float down gently towards the audience.

One draws close to you, so you reach out to touch it, and pull back in surprise as it reacts and changes color at your touch. Then, the first climax in the music hits. The shape explodes into what looks like sand mixed with pure light, floating in the air. The material proceeds to stream away, entwining and interacting with other strands as they expand to fill the space of the arena.

The climax ends, the music lowering in intensity, and the shapes re-form. This time, however, the components of the shapes seem to be shifting independently, and all in sync with the music. The air itself appears to be vibrating, and entire portions of the walls and ceiling are beginning to open, with a faint blue glow coming through.

As the major climax of the song begins, the ceiling opens completely to reveal a starry sky, with more shapes floating down. As the intensity of the song rises, the shapes begin to explode into dancing streams of light-particles, just like before. These particles, and the explosions, rise into the air from the stadium with the music, and explode into a glorious fireworks display.

You remember where you are, and pull the glasses off of your face. You know that these shapes and streams of light were made with the glasses, but to your surprise, the fireworks that you are seeing are real. Then, you realize that this is still the first song of the performance.

How is this Done?

To make this dream a reality, we’ll need several different tools all working together. First and foremost, we need Aesel. Aesel will drive the communication of all these different tools, ensuring that everyone can see the same object at the same time. When you reach out and interact with an object, I should be able to see it.

Second, we’ll need some sort of device to display all of these images. This device can range from a headset-based display to a mobile phone, but all of them will communicate through the same back-end system.

The Aesel Project makes all of this possible by providing the technical infrastructure necessary for creating this magical experience. Be sure to check out the Project Page

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