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April 7 - May 14, 2022

ICAT: Open (at the) Source presents pioneering approaches to public exhibits that use technology to deliver immersive and interactive experiences.

Projects use augmented or virtual reality environments, allowing visitors to explore historical datasets and interact with digitized skeletons of extinct animals, while a multi-sensory art installation uses video, sound, and sculpture to explore the socio-ecological impacts of invasive plant species in Appalachia. A mobile spatial audio system transforms data into immersive sound. Visitors can listen to spatialized audio representations of brain activity and cybersecurity attacks.


Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery

The Tesseract brings art and data together by technological advances which enable spatial audio to be presented almost anywhere in a social setting. This mobile spatial audio system presents immersive audio for several listeners at one time with a process called sonification, which turns data into audio. What does data sound like? Close your eyes and listen to sounds in front, behind, and all around you. 

The Tesseract was designed by Tanner Upthegrove after collaborating with artists Stephen Vitiello (whether there was a bell or whether I knocked, 2018, Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University) and Trey Spruance (Auragami, 2017, Cube Fest, Virginia Tech), and finding a need to present multichannel audio at places outside the Cube's 140-channel spatial audio array. This work is supported by the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

Cybersecurity Data Study I (2021)

Brandon Hale

Hale turns a Deadly Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) data into sound. Percussion instruments represent computers attacking a victim. Changes in the percussion instruments represent the type and size of data used in the attack.

Cybersecurity Data Study II (2021)

Brandon Hale

For another perspective on the same data, Hale uses the same dataset as Cybersecurity Data Study I with different instrumentation. Synthesizers represent computers attacking a victim. Changes in the tambre represent the type and size of data used in the attack.

Neuroscience Study I (2022)

Brandon Hale

Using real electroencephalography (EEG) data measured during a musical therapy session, Hale turns brain activity into sound. The sonification of EEG data is spatialized to represent the physical locations of EEG sensors on the head. Special thanks to Jo Culligan.

Lily's Magic Box

Caleb Flood

Lily's Magic Box is a composition with field recordings of rain and tree frogs in the Merrimac area of Blacksburg. Also heard is a chime box, homemade bamboo tubes, whistling, and piano.

Venn Diagram

Caleb Flood

Venn Diagram is a multichannel tone drone experiment, composed for the Tesseract.

Transforming Public Engagement with Underrepresented Stories

Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor

Ed Gitre, project lead

Chris North, Doug Bowman, and Phyllis Newbill

Our intention is to introduce new audiences to the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded digital history project, The American Soldiers in World War II. This crowdsource project comprises some 65,000 pages of uncensored reflections on the war and military service handwritten by service personnel. Overcoming the limitations of bounded screen and printed page, augmented and virtual reality opens up creative possibilities for exhibiting and exploring large documentary collections, such as this one. With ICAT SEAD grant funding, we retooled the AR/VR platform, Immersive Space to Think, designed by members of Center for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCI) with the goal of creating an immersive museum exhibit that mixes artefacts with digital objects to help tell the story of the American GI. We focused on the experiences of Black soldiers who served in a segregated Army and were denied the rights and privileges of their white comrades, even as the U.S. and its allies were waging a war in defense of democracy.

The Modern Skeleton

Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor

Sterling Nesbitt, project lead

Jonathan Bradley, Max Ofsa, Michelle Stocker, Phyllis Newbill, Scott Fralin, Thomas Tucker, and Todd Ogle

Although inspiring, the public interaction between a skeleton of an extinct animal is largely passive, even with associated museum exhibit information panels. This project is a "living exhibit," created from a skeleton of extinct animals by digitizing a skeleton of an important dinosaur relative and creating a unique interactive learning environment through a combination of the latest paleontological information, augmented reality (AR), and interactive information.

Invasive Exegesis

Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor

David Franusich and David Barney

David Franusich and David Barney • Invasive Exegesis, 2014-2024
David Franusich and David Barney • Invasive Exegesis, 2014-2024

Invasive Exegesis is an in-progress multi-sensory art installation to illuminate the socioecological impacts of invasive plant species in Appalachia, exploring both the connection between people and invasive plants and the consequences of the unchecked spread of these species. As part of the first phase of the project, an implementation of the Cellular Automata model was projected onto three invasive species in-situ: Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima; Japanese Barberry, Berberis thunbergii; and the Callery (Bradford) pear, Pyrus calleryana. The second phase will use the documentation of the projections (seen here) as part of a mobile art installation to help educate the public about invasive plants in our region. This project was funded in part by the Center for Communicating Science.

The Story of Dirk and Chip: Sir Teddy Ruxpin's Revenge

Francis T. Eck Exhibition Corridor

Eric Shoenborn and Caleb Flood

The Story of Dirk and Chip is an award-winning film series about two young innovative opossums from the holler of Brush Mountain in Blacksburg. In this collage of footage from the second installment of the project, we see two animatronic opossums from the future who travel back in time to ask the original innovators some questions about their origins. They discover that their creator, Teddy Ruxpin, was ritually invented by the original Dirk and Chip and deemed an abomination after several talks that he gave, which radicalized the forest inhabitants. Made possible with funding from the Institute for Creativity and Technology (ICAT).