Affective immersion and virtual spaces:
incorporating virtual reality, EEG and sound.
TUESDAY 17th MARCH
Minto House Common Room – 5pm – followed by our usual lovely snacks, wine and chats – come join us!
ABSTRACT: In the current project we intend to explore the potential of portable electroencephalography (EEG) technology in combination with portable virtual reality technology for experiencing virtual reality spaces.We aim to investigate how specific geometrical parameters of virtual space and sound can tune the users’ affective responses.
Previous studies have used virtual reality as a tool for the evaluation of architectural design proposals (Sheng et al., 2011; Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, 2013; Drettakis et. al., 2007).These studies have shown that virtual reality could enhance the architectural design process as an evaluation tool (Mobach, 2008; Taewoo, H and Yong-Ho, 2013). Portable EEG technology has also been used previously with virtual reality (Rodríguez et. al., 2013).
We suggest combining portable EEG and VR technology in a real time interaction. We propose an artistic installation in order to explore this interaction. An experimentee sits in the middle of a dark room wearingbothan EEG headset and a VR headset. The useris immersed in a simple cuboid architectural environment while at the same time exposed to spatially localized sounds in the physical space. The VR images are also projected on a wall. Our aim is to record the affective responses of the user in a dynamic virtual reality environment. Architectural parameters of the spacesuch as scale and dimensions alter. Sounds also change in sequence. We aim to firstly collect the affective data of the user in response to the different visual and audio stimuli. Secondly we attempt to use the affective data registered in real time from the user in order to alter the geometrical characteristics of the virtual environment. This alteration will in turnalter the user’s emotional state anew. This way we generate a dynamic interaction between the virtual reality environment and the actor. Through this dynamic calibration of space the users will manage to tune their space so that the latter meet their emotional needs (Coyne, 2010).
Neuroscience can help architects understand better the effect that environmental stimuli have on the users and this way evaluate their design decisions (Eberhard, 2003; Edelstein and Macagno, 2012). The virtual realm has also been always closely related to architecture. It is however recent advancements in virtual reality technologies which havegenerated new hybrid spaces which blur the boundaries between the physical and the virtual (Picon, 2010). We want to explore these boundaries and understand how one’s sensorial experience is affected in a dynamic virtual reality environment. We embrace American philosopher Michael Heim’s definition of the virtual world. The virtual world is not a photorealistic re-presentation of the primary physical world that we live in. Instead the virtual world exists in parallel with our primary world, extending the latter into a different dimension (Heim, 1998).
We emphasize on the experience of architectural space.We adopt theories of environmental psychology and psychophysics, in order to interpret the emotional responses that different environments elicit. And we use brain representation technologies in order to understand the brain activity that corresponds to the user’s behavioural changes to the environmental stimuli. We also elaborate on theories of sound perception and psychoacoustics. Finally we approach virtual reality as a medium that extends our physical body into the digital world (McLuhan, 1994).
Dorothea Kalogianni is currently a PhD candidate at the Edinburgh College of Art, of the University of Edinburgh, where she is also a tutor. Her doctorate research links neuroscience and architecture. More specifically she investigates the implications that responsive sound environments have on the spatial behavior of the users. She has worked on responsive arts installations and has recently been exploring electroencephalography (EEG) technology for the creation of emotional sound responsive environments. She received her graduate diploma in architecture from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and has completed the Msc in Adaptive Architecture and Computation at the Bartlett School of Architecture of the University College of London. She is an AHRC funded student (tuition fees only) and a registered Greek architect.