monadologie day 11

We played in the VR Lab today. The Astrophysics Centre has 3-D Stereoscopic projectors and twin cameras for filming also (yes, we will be playing with those too later), and after almost a month of reading stuff, both here and over the holidays in Adelaide, it seemed like a good place to start. It has that “wow! oh that’s amazing” effect on everyone who sees it, stars and galaxies spinning, millions of years compressed into seconds.

Bonnie and I have been joined by Lina Limosani, whom we’ve known for years, though as usual are actually in the same room and city maybe twice in that time. She was choreographing in Ignition too, so it’s been only a couple of months since we last were in the same place. A lot of talking then, first at the new favourite coffee shop and record store run by the French guy who makes it feel like we’re in Europe, then once I’d grabbed masses of equipment, in the theatre.

“What am I going to do?” has become “I don’t know what I’ll do next, but this is what I’ll do now”. Lina and I spent yesterday at Napier St, again mostly talking, but trying to get familiar with all the improvisation techniques. I seem to be working with it at a level lately where every time I think about it or explain it I realise something new in it, where it can go, how it connects to other things, how it can be better thought in order to be more clear and coherent.

Once I worked out how to operate the system, we watched a bunch of visualisations of the large scale structure of the universe and others of galaxy formation and interaction. I can’t really talk about these too sensibly yet, so rather than pollute your mind with misinformation, I’ll try and explain what we see.

These visualisations are evolutions of systems over time. We particularly liked the one named, “Disrupting Dwarf”, which came from a Hubble Space Telescope picture of a distant galaxy a couple of years ago. Someone noticed a small, dwarf galaxy being consumed by the main galaxy, and so decided to model what might be happening. The visualisation is a small, fast moving globule that gets sucked through the disk of the galaxy, spins out the other side leaving a trail of debris that spirals back in, before it in turn plummets hubward, and bounces in ever decreasing arcs through the core, splattering and ejecting matter on each pass until it is entirely absorbed. Each bright dot that twists in agonisingly complex paths represents clusters of stars within the galaxy and dwarf. We can zoom in, rotate, speed up, slow down, stop and reverse time, all in trippy 3-D.

With our necessary 3-D glasses on, looking like alien hoodlums, a camera to capture it all, and Sunn0))) live in Le Chapelais playing, we spent a few hours trying to map this with all the techniques we’ve been working with. We started mostly with fingers and hands, and simple 9-point mapping and a bunch of point and line methods, keeping it simple is torturous when cascades into infinity almost immediately. Later it got more open, and … this stuff seems to build on itself, the more there is, the more there is.

The first day has been a rather exciting romp in science wonderland. I think it could go quite well from this, and the feeling or sense I’ve had of what it might look like seems to be vaguely accurate. The complexity though… Oh it’s going to be murder. We’re in the VR Lab all this week, with some time in a proper studio to put this into our bodies later in the week, and then…

I have a date with the State Library to slobber over some almost 300 year old texts from Gottfried Leibniz. mmm … rare book porn.

Some photos of what we were looking at and playing with.