An Interactive Digital Media Science Theme Park

Elements” is a project developed with the aid of a grant from the Digital Media Department at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where I was a member of the faculty. The purpose of the project was to explore new ways of creating exciting interfaces between media and the physical environment.

The design of this hypothetical theme park is based on the exploration of air, fire, water and earth through the use of digital media. I have designed one pavilion for each element. These pavilions have been created to represent actual structures. The structures could be built in the future, after certain high-resolution digital display screen technology has been developed. These screens, which are due to be available within the next ten years, will be very thin, flexible, and large enough to cover entire buildings.

The air pavilion is several hundred feet in length; it would be made of large curved interactive digital display screens supported by thin steel columns. Sounds and animated images such as clouds, giant birds, and jet planes, appear to glide through the structure as they move from screen to screen. People standing around and underneath the pavilion can interact with it in many unexpected ways as they manipulate what they see and hear.

One of the visitors stands under the structure and releases a small red helium balloon. As the balloon floats up through the display panels, we see images of many giant red balloons, which appear on the panels as they float back and forth at different speeds and in different directions. Suddenly the balloons begin to burst and we hear loud popping sounds. There is a large underground space beneath the structure that also contains many interactive air exhibits.

The fire pavilion, which is several hundred feet in diameter, would also be partially made of the interactive high-resolution digital display screens. At the center is a real fire, which is monitored by video cameras. The cameras send real time, recorded time, and digitally manipulated images and sounds to the perimeter display screens. People can interact with the real fire and the digital fire in many ways, through various interfaces. They can walk down into the volcano-like support structure beneath the fire ring and interact with many fire exhibits. They can experience walking into digital flames inside of the 3-D virtual reality containment chamber. The entire floor of the lower section of the fire pavilion is covered with animated digital molten lava.

The water pavilions above ground tubular structure is clad with the interactive high-resolution digital display screens. Images and sounds of water appear to flow through the gigantic tubes in different directions and at different speeds, as giant fish glide across the entire structure. Suddenly one of the visitors appears to have been sucked into the structure as she takes a virtual reality ride through the tubes down into the underground exhibit section of the pavilion. In the underground section there are many interactive exhibits. At the center we see the giant tubes as they pierce through the earth from above. Giant bubbles appear in the tubes, we also can see huge water molecules appear. The water freezes, crystallizes and thaws. This and much more is controlled by the visitors through various unexpected interfaces.

The earth pavilion appears to have fallen from the sky into the earth, where it now protrudes from out of the surrounding landscape. It’s several hundred feet in diameter and is clad with the high-resolution interactive digital display screens. Standing high above the earth shaped pavilion is a huge gantry like structure that transports visitors to the top observation platform. From the observation platform it is possible to interact with the display screens. Through various interfaces, images and sounds of the surface of the real earth could be displayed in real time from satellites. Visitors would also be able to interact with the surface of the earth by superimposing data maps onto the pavilion that would present various interactive scenarios which, among other things, could illustrate anticipated long term land erosion, given certain weather predictions, anticipated effects of global warming, deforestation, etc. A large underground portion of the pavilion would be located beneath the display screen. Many earth related exhibits would be presented here including several 3-D virtual reality environments. In one of these environments, visitors would be able to throw magic grains of sand into the air and see and hear them grow into giant multicolored stalactites and stalagmites.

This is only a preview of the Elements project. Much more has been designed and will be presented in the future.

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