The makings of Nature imagined

The Cube‘s Nature imagined project displays three of William Robinson‘s captivating landscape paintings, digitised for the first time at high resolution. Visitors can zoom in on each of the artworks to see intricate detail and discover fascinating facts about the painted landscapes.

This project brings together the interaction of classic visual art and science, providing an opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna of the Springbrook area that William Robinson paints and gain insights into the artist’s techniques.

We checked in with developers at The Cube to find out what it takes to bring a massive project like this together and what aspects were the most exciting to create.

Nature imagined

‘Nature imagined’, 2018. Image by Patrick Hamilton

The Cube’s Nature Imagined allows visitors to interact with the works. They can learn about the flora and fauna of the Springbrook area and gain insights into the artist’s techniques. What process was used to collect this detailed information?

We travelled to Springbrook multiple times to photograph and film the plants and animals that inspired William Robinson to paint the area. We worked closely with experts here at QUT to ensure all the information was accurate, we are lucky to be surrounded by incredibly knowledgeable educators which is a big help when working on projects like Nature imagined.

We primarily filmed the video clips that are used in Nature imagined information panels. These clips are specially edited to appear endless, we used the latest video editing techniques to give the illusion of perpetual motion wherever possible to try and illustrate the constant, moving beauty of nature.

Cube Studio team at Springbrook, 2017.

This project is an interesting change for The Cube as previous projects have been based on science. How have you adapted The Cube’s technology to showcase a project of fine art paintings?

We have had to write special software to enable The Cube to display such high-resolution images. This software has enabled us to generate very smooth movement of these large images, and what we have managed to achieve is incredible considering how much data is being moved around. New code to handle the image zooming and scrolling was created as we wanted to match the public expectations of smooth interaction experienced on our smartphones and tablets.

Working on a project like Nature imagined has been a nice break from the hard science we usually deal with such as robotics or the periodic table. We created an ambient soundtrack of birds and running water that plays in The Cube when the project is running, we have had that soundtrack playing in The Cube Studio for a few weeks now, it is very relaxing!

You mention the team developed new software to enable The Cube to display high-resolution images. Can you tell us about this new software and existing software, Unity 3D? How do these software packages complement each other?

We use the game development software Unity 3D to create all of our projects. It’s fantastic for most applications, although we are pushing the limits with William Robinson’s super high-resolution paintings.

Some of the challenges during the development of Nature imagined were ensuring the first touch and subsequent manipulation of the paintings felt natural. We also had to master seamlessly looping the videos we shot while on location in Springbrook, to give the illusion of perpetual motion, they are quite hypnotic!

‘Nature imagined’, 2018. Image by Patrick Hamilton

Can you explain some of the challenges in developing a project like Nature imagined? And how were these problems different to recent projects like Code-A-Bot?

Our approach to any project is similar; we design from a user’s perspective. The team will define what a visitor would like to learn or how someone new to The Cube may experience the project, then break down that experience into smaller parts that we can work on.

Nature imagined contains a lot more information than Code-A-Bot, our previous project. It is always challenging to manage research and expertise from QUT stakeholders and Nature imagined was no exception. Our subject matter experts ensured we had enough information – sometimes too much! This information had to be entered into the project and proof read – quite a task! A big paper trail but it is safe to say the research is all in and it gives Nature imagined depth and longevity.

‘Micro macro’ at QUT Winter holiday program, 2018. Image by Patrick Hamilton

In what other ways can visitors understand and interpret the ideas in Nature imagined?

The Cube’s Winter holiday program (7-14 July 2018) features a wide variety of drop-in and bookable activities to delve deeper into the themes of Nature imagined. As well as being able to interact with The Cube screens (Nature imagined, Dino Zoo, Retro Arcade) families can get hands-on with art and natural sciences.

Visitors can drop-in to Micro Macro and make drawings from flora and flora of the area and then add to an evolving collage. The digital scavenger hunt allows families to work together to look for insects and plants displayed at The Cube and follow missions over to the William Robinson Gallery, located within Old Government House. Families can meet QUT scientists working on real-world problems and explore a variety of rocks on display. Kids are encouraged to observe and interact – an important skill for aspiring artists or scientists.


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


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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Exploring art and science over Summer

How was your summer? We spent ours exploring art and science with lots of new friends! Our Public Programs Officer, Kerry Turnbull takes us through the highlights of the 2018 Draw it. Code it. | QUT Summer Holiday Program at The Cube.

What a blast January was! We were thrilled to welcome over 5,000 visitors to The Cube from 6 to 14 January during the summer holiday break. Families, eager to break the school holiday boredom blues, brought along children excited to engage in the range of hands-on activities on offer at The Cube and QUT Art Museum.

Image © QUT. Code-A-Bot at Draw It Code It Holiday Program.

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Deconstructing Gosia Wlodarczak’s artist residency at QUT Art Museum

“One of the main rules which structure all my drawings is that I do not work from imagination. I draw my surrounding as I look at it in the very moment of mark making. Every line, every shape you see on the drawing belongs to the shape which is in my field of vision while I am drawing”. Gosia Wlodarczak

If you have visited QUT Art Museum during the Draw It. Code It. QUT Summer Holiday Program, you will have seen drawing artist Gosia Wlodarczak (pronounced “Vwodarchak”) hard at work drawing faces inside a closed, custom-built room. We thought we would shed some light on Gosia’s installation in order to demystify her work and inspire you to submit your own self-portrait to the artist!

Image © Longin Sarnecki

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Finding maths in movies – you just need to know where to look!

QUT’s resident pop-culture roboticist Professor Michael Milford (Science and Engineering Centre and Australian Centre for Robotic Vision) joined host Lee Constable for a quick-fire chat about maths in movies, as part of the Fast Five event at the 2018 Family Fun Day. Here’s a recap of their talk…


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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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School teams battle it out at the 2017 FIRST® LEGO® League

This year’s FIRST® LEGO® League Tournament at QUT Gardens Point was a blast! 36 teams, coaches, and spectators arrived bright and early at The Cube on Saturday 18 November to take part in the annual robotics challenge for students aged 9–16 years.

Teams and spectators arriving at The Cube.











This year’s HYDRO DYNAMICS theme delivered lots of learnings in relation to sourcing, transporting, and disposing of water. Students also applied their water solving skills to real-world problems in the Research Project Challenge eg. improving water fountains at their school or designing their own reusable watter bottle prototype. Read more