We are creating INSTRUMENT: One Antarctic Night, a performative, multi-participant, and reconfigurable virtual reality artwork. We describe development of a large scale immersive star field from data collected by the AST3 (Antarctic Survey Telescope) robotic telescopes at Dome A of 817,373 astronomical objects from within the Large Magellanic Cloud within a game-engine based virtual environment. Real-time database queries, selections, and filtering operations enable participants to collaboratively interact with the star field to create dataremixes from astronomical data. Additionally, they facilitate collaborative creation of a soundscape via ambisonic audio spatialization and interactive sonification of the data utilizing data-driven granular synthesis. We evaluate the scalability of our approach and demonstrate that it maintains interactive frame rates at datasets with millions of astronomical objects, with each object being both individually manipulable or selectable and manipulable within subsets. Our user interface/interaction prototypes include a controller-attached UI and a wave/ripple based interaction where users grab hold of the star field and propagate waves and ripples throughout the virtual world. Our work arises from the art-science practice of dataremix: the appropriation and recombination (remixing) of data in any and all states along the continuum of its transformation from raw to processed to create new meaning.
Ruth West, Violet Johnson, I Chen Yeh, Zach Thomas, Mike Tarlton, "Experiencing a Slice of the Sky: Immersive Rendering and Sonification of Antarctic Astronomy Data" in Proc. IS&T Int’l. Symp. on Electronic Imaging: The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality, 2018, pp 449-1 - 449-10, https://doi.org/10.2352/ISSN.2470-1173.2018.03.ERVR-449