“Geomagnetic Storm Visualization”


Media & Studio Arts Symposium

Inventing Oneself Through Art and Technology

Geomagnetic Storm Visualization

February 22, 2020 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Conner Darling & Sindhu Giri 

Description: Conner Darling and Sindhu Giri were artists in residence in the Magnetometer Lab at the Space Research Center, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. Their collaborative residency project resulted in a virtual reality (VR) experience within the CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) at the Duderstadt Center. They’ve developed an experiential narrative of the near Earth geomagnetic storm processes so that the phenomenon can be understood beyond a purely scientific perspective. The artists in residence were interested in the near Earth geomagnetic storm processes—such as the interaction between the solar winds and geomagnetic fields and the Aurora Borealis sightings—since people had a more direct perception and identification of such events.

Users interact with a 3D model of the geomagnetic storm processes centered within the CAVE. The model is an expanding sphere with the aurora borealis in the center and the geomagnetic fields positioned around it. Planar forms drift away from the center into the geomagnetic fields. The solar winds are represented as sharp planes concentrated in the center and spreading outwards. The aurora borealis is vibrant and self-illuminating—it is the only source of light in the model. The neutral geomagnetic fields and solar winds are reflective and appear according to the aurora’s lighting.

The accompanying audio is a series of improvised compositions inspired by the geomagnetic storm processes. The audio clips are connected to specific X-Y coordinates in the model and the audio plays when the user is within certain proximity to the source object. Similar to reality, users are able to correlate specific sounds to imagery when traveling through the 3D model. The abstraction of imagery and sound in our virtual environment allows for individual interpretation of the storm processes. 

Presenter Bios:

Conner Darling (BM ’19) is a performance artist, improvisor, and percussionist. Currently exploring the medium of performative essay, he has worked extensively with solo improvised music, graphic notation, and personal non-fiction essay writing. His work is currently centered around sustainability, agriculture, story telling, performance as authentic interaction, and collaboration with technologists and scientists.

Sindhu Giri (BA ‘19, BS ‘19) graduated from the University of Michigan with a dual degree in Art/Design and Information Science. The underlying theme in her work is the desire to express or lessen the disparity between humans and machines. With her interdisciplinary background, her work is focused within a few disciplines: design, human-computer interaction, computer science, and emerging technology. Moving forward, she’d like to incorporate environmental awareness into her technically driven practice. She hopes to express and contextualize the severity of environmental issues so that people are better informed of its consequences.