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SFU artists make waves at Rio Olympics

Two SFU students are making a splash in Rio de Janeiro with their multimedia art display which is part of the Olympics cultural programming.

P.O.E.M.A., an art installation created by two SFU students, is turning heads at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

Adriano Fagundes/Contributed

P.O.E.M.A., an art installation created by two SFU students, is turning heads at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

With the eyes of the world on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, two SFU students are showing off their hard work in a different way.

A multimedia art display created by SFU's PhD students Mirjana Prpa and Kıvanç Tatar was selected to be displayed in Rio de Janeiro as part of the Olympics' cultural programming.

The choice to display the piece came as a surprise to the pair, as both figured their installation would only be run in New York City after Regina Miranda, a curator who helped them set up the display, informed them she wanted their piece to also be part of the cultural programming at the Olympics, which she had a direct connection to.

"I feel excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Regina and her great team in Brazil and share our work with many people who came to experience it during those five weeks while the installation and performance is on," Prpa said.

The art installation entitled P.O.E.M.A., which stands for Percursos Organizados Entre Movimentos Aleatorios, is based off the Prpa and Tatar's New York City display called Pulse, Breath, Water.

Utilizing an Oculus Rift VR-headset and a respiratory-monitoring device, the art piece is anything but ordinary, as it projects a virtual ocean onto a screen, varying in its display and music played depending on the user connected to the device depending on their reaction, including their pulse, head position, and breathing patterns.

Utilizing an Oculus Rift VR-headset and a respiratory-monitoring device, the art piece projects a virtual ocean onto a screen, varying in its display and music depending the subject's pulse, head position, and breathing patterns.

Adriano Fagundes/Contributed

Utilizing an Oculus Rift VR-headset and a respiratory-monitoring device, the art piece projects a virtual ocean onto a screen, varying in its display and music depending the subject's pulse, head position, and breathing patterns.

"We aimed for connecting a user and a virtual environment through the user's breathing while they are immersed in a virtual environment," Prpa said. "The concept evolved around three elements: pulse, breath, and water."

Breath is the main component, the two explained, as it allows the user direct influence with the virtual environment.

"The virtual environment depicts the element of water as an ocean that one is immersed in. The frequency of the user's breathing provokes and challenges an interaction between the user and the system, and this changes the behaviour of the whole environment (audio and visuals)," Prpa said.

The waves get more intense, and the music being played all change depending on the user, Tatar said.

"The participant's breathing frequency is mapped to eventfulness of audio samples," he explained. "In summary, as the user's breathing slows down, the music settles down and become less eventful and the pulsation also slows down, and stops when the user breathes very slow and subtle. As the user starts breathing faster, the audio becomes more eventful, followed by a more rapid pulsation."

In addition dancers also adapt their routine to match the display, which adds another layer of interaction between the audience and the art.

"I think this was an excellent opportunity to get involved with different disciplines," Tatar said. "I am super interested in doing more artwork that explores interdisciplinary in art and technology. I am truly inspired by working with such amazing people."

The piece is on display at the Oi Futuro Flamengo museum in Rio de Janeiro and will be until the end of the Olympics on August 21.

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