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Dalhousie’s Computer Science Nocturne Exhibits create a scene

Posted by Amanda Boone on November 7, 2023 in Faculty, Research
The Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Visualization and Graphics cluster from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science participates in Nocturne.
The Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Visualization and Graphics cluster from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science participates in Nocturne.

Each October, the vibrant city of Halifax comes alive with Nocturne, an all-night art festival that celebrates and showcases the local visual arts scene. Attendees have the opportunity to visit captivating exhibits and engage in interactive sessions, offering a deep dive into the dynamic world of the local arts. 

This year, the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Visualization and Graphics cluster from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science put forth a pair of captivating and innovative demonstrations titled A Table and A Piano.

HCI, Visualization and Graphics cluster members, Dr. Derek Reilly, Dr. Joseph Malloch and Dr. Sageev Oore, whom is also a member of the AI cluster within the faculty, organized the demonstrations at the new Paramount site with several of their graduate students. 

The Paramount site allows for high visibility on one of Halifax’s busiest streets, having drawn in hundreds of spectators throughout the festival. The Nocturne demonstrations featured an AI-connected Disklavier grand piano and the Psychogeographer’s Table.

A table

Dr. Malloch, who co-directs the Graphics and Experiential Media Labs (GEM Lab) had The Psychogeographer’s Table displays a solid wood table with a 3D map of the Halifax Explosion. It was previously a work of art in the Dalhousie Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. The top of the table forms a solid, 3D map of the region where the explosion took place. 

 “The table was carved out of birch wood by a computer-controlled machine at the Faculty of Architecture. We project a variety of current and historical maps and aerial photographs onto the surface of the table,” explains Dr. Malloch. “There is also a holographic layer you can interact with using an augmented reality headset.” 

The interactive display enabled guests to try out the Microsoft HoloLens while other patrons could see what they were seeing on a large display in the lab.

A piano

As a pianist and AI researcher, Dr. Oore was thrilled to use his lab’s newly acquired - and already AI-enabled - Yamaha Disklavier grand piano to showcase the interactive generative music systems that his graduate students and interns are developing. The grand piano is equipped with sensors and actuators that are connected to machine learning systems developed in his lab. Once trained on data from human performers, the ML system can generate signals that are sent to the piano that tell it how and what keys to play.

“One of the fun things about this research is that while its core is machine learning, at a certain point it becomes interdisciplinary, and I love the diversity of collaboration that brings," says Dr. Oore. "Dr. Malloch helped us a lot with our installation and I collaborate a lot with my brother who is a musician, Dr. Dani Oore."

Dr. Oore's research combines different areas of study. Using AI, they explore how sounds work and try out new creative ideas.

HCI, Visualization and Graphics

With many exciting research possibilities on the horizon, the cluster is thrilled to have state-of-the-art equipment and ample space to work in. 

“The cluster has been regular contributors to the festival over the years, with exhibits at landmarks throughout the city. This is the first exhibit we have hosted at the new Paramount research facility on Barrington Street,” Dr. Reilly explains. 

This year’s contribution marks the group’s eleventh installation and the ninth year of participating in the Nocturne festival. With a new space, the research cluster looks forward to participating in and hosting more events in the years to come. 

Read more about the intriguing research by the HCI, Visualization and Graphics cluster through Dr. OoreDr Malloch and Dr Reilly’s work.