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Unpacking the development of Nature imagined

Q&A with Vanessa Van Ooyen and Simon Harrison

Nature imagined is an exciting new collaboration and will be displayed in two mediums: in the William Robinson Gallery and digitally on The Cube. This unique interaction of art and science provides an inspiring and explorative digital experience and this week we talk to Vanessa Van Ooyen, Senior Curator of the William Robinson Gallery, and Simon Harrison, The Cube Studio Manager about the development of Nature imagined.


Vanessa: The William Robinson Gallery and The Cube are two very different venues to showcase William Robinson’s work, how did the idea for Nature imagined come about? And can you tell us how Robinson’s knowledge of the works has informed the project?

As the gallery is focused solely on William Robinson’s work, we are interested in finding innovative ways of exploring his practice and engaging a wider audience with it. We are fortunate enough to be a part of a multidisciplinary university with fantastic resources such as The Cube that allows for exciting collaborations. Both venues have a strong focus on education, so it was only natural for a partnership between the spaces to showcase Bill’s work to its full potential. Read more

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Calling all creatives: The Cube 2018 Artist in Residence program

Are you a professional working in visual art, interactive design, science communication, digital storytelling, software engineering, data visualisation or games design?

Do you want to push the boundaries of your practice and develop an innovative project on one of the world’s largest interactive display spaces?

If answered ‘yes’ to the above – it is time to start your application for The Cube’s 2018 Artist in Residence program!

The Cube

The Cube, 2013

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The Cube turns five!

What a year it has been! We can’t believe we’re already half a decade old.

The Cube just turned 5, and what better way to celebrate than taking a look at some of the highlights of the past year.  

Georgie Pinn’s Cube Residency

Cube Resident George Pinn brought a unique flare to The Cube, developing an immersive and interactive project entitled Echo. Echo used facial tracking technology, animation and sound to explore notions of empathy and shared identity.

Image © QUT. ECHO

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80s style games with a maths twist!

Everything old is new again and you can get your 80s fix with The Retro Arcade, which launches on 6 January 2018 at the Draw It. Code It. QUT Summer Holiday Program. Using the power of algorithms and Unity 3D software to immerses users in an 80’s style world, The Retro Arcade includes two new games, Mighty Pucks and Track Stars, and old favourites Block Breakers, Space Junk and Parabola Pirates.

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Learn the basics of coding through play

As our world rapidly changes with the influence of technology touching every aspect of our lives, it’s vital that children are equipped with the necessary skills to navigate a dynamic and ever-evolving future. In Queensland, the Department of Education and Training’s #codingcounts initiative places great emphasis on coding and robotics technologies, introducing these learning areas into the curriculum to ensure all students have the opportunity and support to become digital creators and innovators of tomorrow.

The Cube’s most recent project, Code-A-Bot, aims to teach users the fundamentals of coding in a highly interactive and immersive digital game, which also educates users on recycling and robotics. Cube Studio Manager, Sean Druitt and Digital Interactive Designer, Simon Harrison talk about the journey to develop Code-A-Bot, and the opportunities it provides for students to learn about the fundamentals of coding.

Image © QUT. Code-A-Bot at The Cube.

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Tackling Australia’s waste problem – one bot at a time!

Australia’s waste problem is real and we want to create awareness and inspire kids (and adults) to look after our environment. Code-A-Bot has a strong environmental message teaching visitors to code, based on simple programming language featuring drag and drop, and the goal is to create efficiencies in a recycling plant for the future.

Code-A-Bot

Based around a fictional recycling facility DERP (Department of Environmental Resource Processing), the aim of the game is to program robots to sort waste into material categories for processing and recycling. Robots can be coded to move, sense, and collect or distribute rubbish around the facility and into the correct bins. We need your help to make DERP run more efficiently!

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Meet The Cube’s newest robot

Code-A-Bot is The Cube’s new interactive digital game in which players program robot workers to collect and sort rubbish in a bid to create the most efficient virtual waste recycling plant at DERP (Department of Environmental Resource Processing) .

This is what a robot in Code-A-Bot looks like – small and cube-like – we call him robot.

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Recoding robots at The Cube … DERP needs your help!

For the past six months, the Cube Studio have been developing Code-A-Bot, a game ased around a fictional recycling facility run entirely by robots. Code-A-Bot will be launched and playable at QUT’s Robotronica on 20 August and afterwards will become a regular project rotating on The Cube screens.

Welcome to the DERP (Department of Environmental Resource Processing)

DERP has created an automated materials recovery facility, run exclusively by robots to sort waste into material categories for processing and recycling. Unfortunately, the code that runs the robots has bugs and is inefficient and we need your help!

Visitors to The Cube need to debug and recode the robots to boost the efficiency of the plant. Players will have access to a host of sensors and cameras to assist the selection of the waste and can fit different manipulators to move the waste around the facility and hopefully into the correct bins.

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Echo reverberates across The Cube

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Mohsin Hamid

Here we are, the final Echo reverberates across The Cube in hybrid glitch form.

The photo booth is installed, the virtual mirror throbs in anticipation and the Echo character maps across the space. She navigates us, “Come closer”  she says, you are now part of something bigger”.

The last month has seen many creative and technical developments, including the integration of the narratives. They began as fiction and ended as readymades. Real intimate stories from real people. Through the mirror our storytellers confide in you, the user, revealing moments of their lives where they have suffered or overcome hardship. As their narrative unfolds the features of your face slowly morph into their face. They operate you with their expressions and leave you placed firmly in their shoes. This intimate experience forces us to relate and connect with those outside of our normal social sphere. Narrative has long been a tool for empathy, awareness and social change, Echo intends to push this further still by immersing the viewer visually as well as through the imagination.

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Tuning back in from the reverberating world of ECHO …

A month under my belt and still two to go. The project is growing limbs by the second and each day seems more exciting than the last. Tech wise our facial tracking application is well on the way to having the main functionality working smoothly.  Here’s a taster video of the first stage recorded live from the application with a few treatments added.

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The next stage is user interface design and narrative content. It’s time to bring fiction, drama and sound to the work so you might see me cruising around Kelvin Grove campus collecting and researching personal stories. Don’t be shy, come and say Hello and get involved in my project.

Over the next three weeks I’ll use this research to write some intimate stories with the help of the creative writing and drama students.  These narratives will be integrated into the final user experience where you literally see through someone else’s eyes, kickstarting the empathy engine..

Still so much to do but with the support of The Cube and the Creative Industries team, anything is possible!