I had the opportunity to develop a piece for the MIRVAC Media Wall located inside 664 Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia. The outcome had to be an abstract real-time generative art video developed within either Max7 or Unity3D. The given theme for the piece was "Life Cycle" which was to be interpreted broadly. It also needed to incorporate generative video and data visualisation techniques and be explicitly distinct from regular straightforward media. The video needed a narrative that related to the onscreen visuals and the data driving the content.
Unravelling Reality showcases the extreme sudden shift in climate. Comparing the past records of CO2 emissions to current records which show the alarming rise of emissions within Australia. Displaying the potential effect it could have on our life cycle if the emissions continue to rise further. The outcome was developed using C# within Unity.
The 664 building aims to promote the arts displaying imagery on its large media wall. This wall will be viewable to both the occupants of the building and to the public. The intention of the screen is to present concepts through an abstract means to a diverse set of audiences.
The outcome needed to be digestible to both the occupants of the building and onlookers passing by. It must also take into consideration the occupants of the building. The views and values that are presented within the content will also reflect upon to the residents.
The data being used for the design solution was provided by “The World Bank”. It's an archived source of data that showcases CO2 emissions from 1960-2014. Australia has been specifically chosen from the data set in order to raise a national concern. This is because Australia features some of the highest carbon intensity worldwide.
The sequence constantly switches from 2014 (the most recent year of the data set) to a random year from 1960-1980. The data is then converted to a series of percentages amongst the set. This allows the values to have a direct comparison to each set of data. This value then acts as a multiplier that generates the visuals. Which visually showcase the alarming effects that could occur if the emissions only continue to increase.
The outcome went through several concepts and iterations before being finalised. The piece had four major iterations developed with each set tackling a different issue.
The first iteration was a very early prototype used to help visualise the concept to clients. It showcased the piece's overall atmosphere and how data would influence the narrative. The main concern of this iteration was the issue of the visualisation being too abstract to the point where the connection to the narrative had been lost.
The second iteration's goal was to relink the narrative in a way the made more sense to the viewer and also overhaul the visuals to a higher fidelity. The visuals had changed to a cloud of gas which acted as a physical representation of the C02 emissions. Every minute a new set of data would be displayed which showcases the C02 emissions from that year. This data would influence the cloud deforming it more heavily as the number increases which show the damaging effects to our climate.
The third iteration focused on optimization changes. It needed to run at the desired frame rate of 60fps in 2720x2400. Changes were made to the cloud where real-time lighting was removed and baked onto the mesh instead which greatly boost optimization. Changes were also made within the code to split the workload between the GPU and CPU, decreasing the chances of one component bottlenecking the performance of the outcome.
The last iteration focused on solving the outcome's composition. An issue with the composition was that the camera felt like it was fighting with the elements in the frame. To resolve this the terrain mesh was removed and remade into a set of northern lights that float around the gas. This solution helped encapsulate the gas within the frame and also helped point the viewer’s attention to the main attraction, the carbon emissions. This change also helped strengthen the link to reality.