The Aether Project by Refik Anadol/ Transmutating the Real and the Ethereal
As a part of UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design (A.UD) advanced design studio course “Architectural Intelligence: Exploring Space as an Interactive Medium”, researchers Refik Anadol, Raman Mustafa, Julietta Gil and Farzad Mirshafiei created The Aether Project, an immersive interactive environment that seamlessly combines robotic actuation, formal transformation and real time projection mapping controlled by a sensory input device. The course lead by Guvenc Ozel, Technology Director of the new IDEAS platform of UCLA A.UD, in collaboration with Casey Reas, Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts, explored potential scenarios of architecture as a responsive, robotically actuated technology which undergoes spatial iterations triggered by sense based devices.
The evolution of technology reveals an aspiration to place mind into matter in order to create tools that are subservient yet autonomous from humans. Architecture as a form of technology does not exist outside of this cultural aspiration. Concurrently, experiments in sensing technology express this desire to transform architecture into an intelligent form of technology that can autonomously negotiate between the human body, human psyche, the environment and other physical and perceptual parameters.
Based on this premise, the Aether Project focuses on providing an immersive experience through real-time Leap Motion controlled system that synchronously aligns projection mapped visuals on a transforming surface geometry, both choreographed though robot movements. Thus, The Aether Project is designed to test the interaction between humans x robots, robot x robot, and the resulting recursive relationship between technology and human perception continuously.