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The Machinechild Ensemble investigates issues in coupling art and technology - human-machine interface and interaction, real-time sound and graphics environments, distributed performance in composed spaces, and interactive display of complex simulations. The group has had separate cyberarts installations at the Ars Electronica Museum in Linz, Austria, the Georges Pompidou Center/IRCAM in Paris, France, Miller Theatre on Broadway, New York City, and at Cyberfest '97 held at the University of Illinois. Future exhibits are planned for Siggraph, Ars Electronica Museum, Columbia University, and other institutions.

The MachineChild Website can be accessed at this URL:

During the past decade, the digital community has concentrated on visual representation and the improvement of this communication means, in terms of quality and speed of delivery. However, pictures are only half the story. Aural tradition has been around since the beginning of language. We are now transcending the print media paradigm and going beyond the VCR and CD with multi-dimensional hyper-linking, and user-definable exploration, blurring the roles of authoring, viewing and sharing.

Sound and video form the important components in what is loosely termed "multimedia." It's a digital environment on the desktop, over local and global networks. Multimedia refers not only to different media types stored as digital data, but also to highly structured databases that can be accessed by users with a high level of interactivity and content control. The user ideally controls content, acting as a creator as well as a viewer. By accessing databases, the user can grab data to create self-authored content or interactive applications. Sound and video can take a variety of representational forms: e.g. animation, live action, talking heads, etc. In live action footage or animation, sound and video are often exploratory, hence their potential power to educate and inform. But in the still dominant, traditional paradigm of sound tracks and television, audio and video are "broadcast" and "consumed" as a one-way flow of information. The explorers' eye and ear is necessarily that of the creator, not the viewer. Moreover, the vicarious exploration afforded by television and music/radio is experienced almost exclusively as a linear narrative.

My Role:
I was one of four members of the group and served as co-producer, human-machine interaction specialist/researcher, designer, and editor. Other responsibilities included film and video shooting, documenting, and editing, GUI/interface design and implementation, and museum partnering and installation.

Cyberfest - Performance March 1997

Project Description:
New research coupling artistic and scientific principles indicates listening and sensing are valuable paradigms for human-machine interaction. MachineChild is a virtual reality performance in a composed space, in which live musicians interact and "play" with kinetic images and sound computation systems. MachineChild is also a creative testbed integrating five years of interdisciplinary interface development for virtual environments. Prior to the Cyberfest Gala premiere of MachineChild, NCSA virtual environment researchers hosted a seminar on the underlying technology and its application in a creative project. Integrated contributions from UIUC researchers were introduced along with basic principles of VR.

Moving between Kubrick's 2001 and real-time performers

Full stage shot with bassist, video and screens

Jesture recognition technology used during performance

Live performer with edited film sequence behind.

Live performer with edited film sequence behind.


Ground Truth - Installation at Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria, Aug-Dec 1998

Ground Truth is a distributed interactive presentation application that demonstrates a new architecture and a new paradigm for multi-modal information display. Ground Truth presents both artistic and technological innovations in the interactive display of complex simulations, including economics, military strategy, and an uncertainty model in a particle system. Observers are given indirect influence over the flow of information within and between these systems. Dynamic images and sounds are controlled by simulation data and by observers' actions. The artistic concept provides "Data Dramatization" in the form of simulation-based data-driven visual and auditory representations. Valuable aspects for industrial Decision Support include the focus on real-time interaction with large-scale simulations, and the use of intuitive, illustrative display paradigms. Features of the system include a robust multi-user shared "hands on" capability and scalability between large-format VR and desktop Java interfaces. To view the Ground Truth essay (now published in the Ars Electronica Anniversary book by MIT Press), click here for an html-version.

Final installation; opening day

Cloud-level POV; Economy Cycle

Ground Truth cycle spec

A dosen details the installation to museum-goers

Cloud-level POV; Economy Cycle

Prototype environment (2nd iteration)

Battle Station view; the iWall image is in full view

The battlefield; Conflict Cycle

The GT quicktime movie: 20MBs


Coney Island - Installation at Georges Pompidou Center/IRCAM, July 1999

Coney Island is fourth in a series of virtual environment performances/installations created by the Machine Child Ensemble. Coney Island immerses us in the linguistic play of machines, the production of language, and the automation of pleasure. Simulated mechanics in Coney Island drive the dynamics of amusement-machines, forming an arcade landscape of sounding bodies. "Productions" leave traces of meaning in media, in movement and in finite state grammar. Visitors participate over a local area network to modify the simulations. At Ircam, Coney Island will be displayed in a single-screen version of the CAVE.

Looking into the final installation

Group participation and exploration

A family performs and experiments together

The 'big top'

The Wacker game

The underwater sequence




• RiverWeb
• Machinechild
• Ring Disc
• Animation
• Web Applications
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• Extraneous Design

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