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!

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Putting the fun back into physics!

On Saturday 7 January, 4,200 visitors flocked to The Cube for an extra dose of physics fun to celebrate the opening of the Physics Observatory Summer Holiday Program.

We presented a range of Physics-inspired workshops including Hula Hooping by Vulcana Women’s Circus, live science shows by Street Science, a 3D flight simulator game facilitated by the QUT STEM for Schools team and Physics 101 workshops from QUT Physics Society. The live science shows by QUT Alumni Steve Liddell were a massive hit! Kids were amazed by Steve’s science experiments including exploding balloons with liquid nitrogen and a real hand-held fireball.

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Activities from Physics Observatory Holiday Program also ran throughout the day including Physics Wiz Treasure Hunt which allowed families to discover hidden elements of the Holiday Program. Kids were also awarded a ‘Physics Wiz’ sticker! Other activities included Ball Run, which encouraged kids to compare how far and fast balls can travel using tubes and everyday materials on a magnetic wall. Take to the Sky was another popular (paper plane making) activity, which got kids thinking about gravitational forces and how fast and far their planes could fly.

Holiday fun at The Cube

We also announced the winners of the ‘Life on Mars’ Competition. Kids were asked to draw what they imagined life on Mars might look like incorporating what they know about STEM. Banjo Seaniger (8 years) won an Xbox One and Runners up Shaun Gareth (13 years) and Mikayla Daley (12 years) won admission to one of The Cube’s 2017 holiday programs.

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Thanks for everyone who joined us for Physics Fun Day and for those who couldn’t make it Physics Observatory Holiday Program continues everyday 10am-4pm until Sunday 15 January. Check out this video for a taste of the program.

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Q&A with Lauren McCarthy: Provoking ‘fellow feelings’ in her own way

Ars Electronica Q&A with Lauren McCarthy about her Transmit³-Residency: The Changing Room.

Designer, artist and programmer Lauren McCarthy explores the structures and systems of social interaction, identity as well as self-presentation and the potential of technology of how it can influence the dynamics between those traits. During her Transmit³-Residency she wanted to find out about the influence of Big Data on the togetherness in front of The Cube.

Photo by Lauren McCarthy

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Residency presentation: The Cube as a smart social environment

Hi, Lauren here. I’m wrapping up my two month TRANSMIT3 Residency at The Cube and next Thursday 11 August will be the official opening of the new piece I’ve been working on with the team.

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The event will feature an interactive performance installation in which we dine together in a near future where we change feelings like channels on a TV, swipe left for nostalgia, swipe right for glee, and follow each other as The Cube tracks us all.

Stay tuned for my last blog post which details how this event plays out.

 

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Public Programs: the year that has been …

Leighann Ness Wilson reflects on her role over the last six months, as The Cube’s first STEAM Education Officer.

My name is Leighann Ness Wilson and I’ve had the privilege of being The Cube’s very first STEAM Education Officer. With a Bachelor of Built Environment from QUT and over ten years’ experience in commercial Interior Design, it wasn’t until having my own children that I decided it was time to pursue my underlying goal to become an educator. My role at The Cube has allowed me to combine two of my passions: design and education. The practicums within my Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning, combined with my new role at QUT, have given me a profound sense of fulfilment. I find the combination of education and creativity both emotionally and professionally inspiring.

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Hello and welcome, Lauren McCarthy

Hi! I am an artist from New York, in residence for the next two months at The Cube. My practice involves looking at our social interactions, the rules and expectations that govern them, and the effects of technology. I have always been a pretty socially awkward person, and my projects are often attempts to hack my way to better relationships.

A few years ago, I went on a series of dates with people I met on an online dating site and crowdsourced my dating life by paying workers online to watch a video stream of the dates and tell me what to say and do. (Social Turkers, 2013, http://socialturkers.com)

https://vimeo.com/66339316

Thinking about algorithmic enhancement of relationships, together with Kyle McDonald, we made a Google Hangout app that would monitor your speech and facial expression and provide real-time prompts to “enhance” the conversation. (us+, 2014, http://lauren-mccarthy.com/us)

https://vimeo.com/81903116

Most recently, I created an Uber-like app and service where you could hire a stranger (I was actually the Follower) to follow you for one day . I’d tail the person based on their GPS data, keeping just out of sight but within their consciousness, leaving them at the end with just one photo from sometime during the day. (Follower, 2016, http://lauren-mccarthy.com/follower)

https://vimeo.com/149917476

For this residency, I am focusing on the idea of the Smart Home and Internet of Things, and all of the promises these offer. I am going to turn the Cube into a smart home for QUT students and community, gathering data through its many sensors, and interacting with the people in the space through ambient instructions on the walls. The point is to question and critique the idea of a surveillant space that guides you mindlessly, while also exploring more interesting possibilities.

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Often the idea of a smart space or AI is represented by thermostats that adjust themselves and either the complete lack of any human feeling, or a sci-fi fantasy female character.

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I’m planning to dig deeper into the process of socialisation. Who are the human authority figures that teach us how to behave and relate to others. Maybe it is your mum or dad, an older sibling, teacher, or friend, or role model. How do these people watch over us and influence us. Could this social intelligence be captured and embodied in an artificial intelligence?

These are some of the questions I aim to explore with this project. I’ll be starting research with a series of interviews and workshops open to the public. Stay tuned for more details if you’d like to participate!

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Hello 2016. Hello STEAM.

Is there an official cut off date for welcoming in the New Year? I say, in this instance, living by that old adage ‘better late than never’, is not such a bad thing to proclaim. It also helps us to keep in mind that we’ve been fabulously busy since the New Year: delivering over 35 holiday and professional development programs, hosting a visiting fellow from the Centre for Engineering Education and Outreach (Tufts University Boston), co-hosting the official Australian launch of LEGO Education WeDo 2.0, developing six new school workshops, and training 15 new and returning staff (including our very first STEAM Education Officer).

So, without further delay, in this Cube Chat post I’d like to take the time to pause, reflect and introduce you to our STEAM facilitators, our tools, and an overview of how we apply these tools through a STEAM framework.

Our team

What do interactive designers, mechatronic engineers, visual artists, electrical engineers, and educators have in common? They’re QUT students, who hail from across the University’s Faculty of Education, Creative Industries Faculty and Science and Engineering Faculty, and play an integral role in making what we do possible. Say hello to this year’s STEAM facilitators.

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Our tools and how we use them

We use digital technologies that accommodate multiple access points for learners to engage with, pull apart, reassemble, prototype with, evaluate and be creative with. We believe that in today’s ever-changing digital landscape, it isn’t enough to simply consume technology. Learners need to know how to create with technology.

Our approach to STEAM

We believe that to contribute and identify creative solutions to contemporary challenges demands diverse perspectives. We apply this approach throughout our programs by designing for open-ended solutions, and connecting people with ideas that can be explored through complementary ways of thinking, and processes common, or particular to, the disciplinary lenses of STEAM:

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It’s important to recognize that nothing evolves in isolation. We are a hub within a broader learning ecology that is made possible through the connections we make with others: locally, nationally, and globally. To remain relevant, we must remain responsive and open to input from this broader learning web.

The Cube acknowledges the influence of our friends, Design Minds, for the inclusion of our ‘Inquire’, ‘Ideate’, ‘Implement’ STEAM phases.

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Join the conversation: How are you applying STEAM within the classroom? Tell us via Twitter using #STEAM & @QUTTheCube

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Happy 3rd Birthday (part 2)

To continue our reflection of the year that was, this week we hear from our Public Programs team, Jacina Leong and Elise Wilkinson, with some more of The Cube’s highlights from 2015.

  • In May we welcomed educators, curriculum writers, pre-service teachers, and a group of enthusiastic school students from Kelvin Grove State College to Creative Lab: 21st century learning, our partnership program with the Queensland Museum. Participants were introduced to a diverse range of ways to connect students with STEAM using new technologies and systems (games) thinking. Relive the program by watching the Creative Lab video

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  • And, in keeping with our love for all things robotics, last but not least, is FIRST LEGO League! Last year’s challenge saw teams of students developing solutions for a sustainable, greener future. We also welcomed the Hon Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business, to the event to hear what students had developed. Find out more in this First Lego League blog post

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So, what do we have in store for 2016? Plenty. This year, we look forward to:

  • Introducing a new set of weekly workshops for Grades 5 – 10 in Terms 2 – 4. View the 2016 Education Program on our website
  • Welcoming Brian O’Connell, from the Centre for Engineering Education and Outreach, Tufts University, Boston, to facilitate some of our holiday programs
  • Building on our collaboration with Brisbane City Council Library Services through a train-the-trainer model. Stay tuned for more details coming soon
  • Hosting the official Australian launch of the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0

But most of all, we look forward to deepening our connection with the community, welcoming new visitors to The Cube, and continuing to provide inspiring, thought-provoking and engaging STEAM learning experiences for everyone.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our programs. You’re all superstars!

 

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Happy Australia Day

As well as featuring well-known dinosaurs such as T-Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops, Dino Zoo includes five Australian dinosaurs that have never before been animated with scientific accuracy —Queensland’s own Muttaburrasaurus, Kunbarrasaurus, Rhoetosaurus, Coelurosaur and Australovenator nicknamed Banjo.

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Image credit: Australovenator

Banjo is an Australovenator Wintonensis. He is one of our home-grown heroes who was discovered in Winton, Queensland. Dr Scott Hocknull from Queensland Museum is famous for the classification of Banjo, and seeing his old mate finally living and breathing in the zoo has been a fantastic experience.

Sean Druitt, head of The Cube, said “it’s exciting to see the incredible diversity of our Aussie dinosaurs and the lesser-known Australian dinosaurs brought to life. Once we started diving into it we discovered we had some fantastic homegrown dinos.”

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Image credit: Rhohetosaurus

We have our own terrifying raptors, massive sauropods and even cute little ones that you’d want to have at home as a pet. We’ve always fallen in love with the famous dinos from overseas without fully realising that we have so many awesome ones on our own doorstep.

Dino Zoo Holiday Program finished on 26 January 2016 however the Dino Zoo screening project will continue to run in rotation with other Cube projects. For more information on dates and times, please visit Cube Screens.