SensiLab installation questions perfection of the senses

10 September 2018

Science Gallery Melbourne has selected SensiLab’s thought-provoking virtual reality installation “Diffability” to appear in their next pop-up exhibition series, “PERFECTION” this month.

Through the lens of IT research and assistive technology, SensiLab’s installation “Diffability”, created by Dr Matthew Butler and Leona Holloway at Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology, invites people to experience a virtual reality game, using their sense of sound and sight to capture as many mysterious creatures as possible.

Participants will coexist in a virtual world where one will have the ability to see and hear, while the other having reduced vision will have a heightened sense of sound - creating an abstract form of echolocation - an ability to detect objects in an environment by sensing echoes.

Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching, Dr Matthew Butler, says Diffability challenges us to think about our senses and question our obsession with perfecting them.

“There is no such thing as perfection, only trade-offs between strengths and weaknesses. Our installation pushes boundaries in what we may lack in one area can be compensated for developing a “superpower” in another,” Dr Butler said.

“In the animal kingdom, the Cheetah has reached perfection in terms of speed but can only sustain this effort for 30-seconds, ultimately being outrun by most prey.”

“One such example is the use of echolocation by people who are blind - attuning their attention to the echoes off surrounding surfaces to navigate through the world,” Dr Butler said.

“In our example, two virtually co-located participants will engage in a cooperative adventure. Only by working together and combining their abilities will the pair discover the solution to the game, realising that it is the combination of our differences that can lead to the “perfect” solution,” Matt said.

Part experiment, part exhibition the PERFECTION season will explore the intersection of mathematics, quantum physics, utopian worlds, body modification, internet dating, and Instagram filters leaving the audience to ponder the question; “why do humans strive for perfection?”

Melbourne’s Science Gallery blends science and art producing topical and edgy displays, pushing boundaries and taking on challenging topics. Last year the focus was blood. Now the gallery is questioning perfection of form. Why is perfection so important and should it matter?

Perfection: Part Experiment / Part Exhibition
Opens 12.09.2018 - 03.11.2018
Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne

Visit the Perfection exhibition website


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