I am a ____ Neuron
Yoon Chung Han and Soo Jung Kwack
Medium: Animation and WebVR
Issues: 3D Neurons, Art+Science, Interactive, and Participatory
I am a ______ Neuron is an interactive WebVR artwork of creative exploration within a virtual ecosystem where viewers can create their own personalized 3D artificial neurons, interact with them, and observe their interactions in the virtual cosmic world. It offers a playful and audiovisual engagement with the complex interconnectivity of various factors from the universe. Through a collaboration with an astrophysicist and a neuroscientist, it was possible to discover fascinating facts about the similarities and differences regarding how galaxies interact during the formation of the universe and how neurons interact with one another in the development of the brain. In this interactive artwork, the 3D artificial neurons function as small floating galaxies in the universe, and various factors consistently modify the properties of the 3D neurons based on what happens in the actual human brains and galaxies. Live feedback from participants controls the three main factors (gravity, gas, and photons) to constantly change the environment and the neurons. The open-ended continuation and the aesthetic integration of the cosmic world give insight to the viewers about the analogies between neurons and galaxies and the virtual entities in the macro- and the microscopic world. Neuron-to-neuron interactions are a key part of this artwork. When neurons collide with other neurons, a special sound is emitted and the visual properties of neurons (such as scale, design, opacity, and colors) that represent interactions of the actual neurons in our brains are changed. Unlike the real neurons, these virtual neurons float around in the 360-degree open-ended virtual world like dynamic, artificial living creatures.
Unique sound samples are associated with each neuron. The background music represents the artificial cosmic universe and the special sounds are played when the 3D neurons collide with each other. The carefully created sound samples are continuously composed in many ways over time-based on the input from the participants, meaning the music composition is never the same as our nature and the universe constantly evolves and changes.
Yoon Chung Han is an interactive media artist, award-winning interaction designer, and educator. Over the past ten years, she has created a wide range of interactive 2D/3D audiovisual art installations including biologic art, data visualization and sonification, generative art, and audiovisual interface design. Her recent research focus on multimodal interactions using body data created a personalized experience in media arts using biometric data visualization and sonification. Her works have been presented in many international exhibitions, conferences and academic journals such as ACM SIGGRAPH Art gallery, Japan Media Arts Festival, London Science Museum, Media City Seoul, ZKM, NIME, ISEA, ACM Multimedia, ACM SIGCHI, IEEE Vis, and Leonardo Journal. She earned her bachelor and the first master’s degree at the Seoul National University, and her second master’s degree at Design | Media Arts, University of California, Los Angeles. She worked at Samsung Electronics in South Korea as a graphic designer and was a visiting researcher/data visualization specialist at SENSEable City Lab, MIT in Cambridge, MA. She holds Ph.D. in Media Arts and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently an assistant professor in the department of design at San Jose State University, California.
Soo Jung Kwack is a Music Editor at Facebook and freelance Sound Designer based in San Francisco, CA. Her expertise is in music editing, mixing, and sound design for visual media as well as a complete mastery of Pro Tools. Soo is passionate about playing piano, flute, and gumungo (Korean Traditional Sting) as well as pursuing a way to create sonic ideas to life.