Everything is Made of Atoms

March 2013

by Axes
Axes is James Susinno and Mark J. Stock

Everything is Made of Atoms is an interactive new media artwork that explores the entangled and ever-changing relationship between the body and technology. The piece draws parallels between participants and their digitally-mediated images, expressing both as a whole and at the same time as a flow of constituent parts, the lifetimes of which are inextricably linked. The focus of this work is the exploration and rethinking of the relationship and interaction between the body and technology as relational forces rather than separate collections of parts.

Everything is Made of Atoms is presented on a flatscreen monitor or projected on a wall, at eye level. Just above the screen is a Microsoft Kinect sensor, and behind the wall is a computer. Participants interact with the piece in the space in front of the monitor, and experience a mirror-like image of themselves on the screen. Up to six people will be active on-screen at any given time, requiring a room or space at least four by four meters. The Kinect provides the custom software with image, depth, silhouette, and skeleton information for the participants. This data is then used to drive an advanced fluid simulation, unique to this piece, which in turn moves the pixel-like elements that are constantly regenerating and falling off each participant. The artists employed techniques from high-performance computing to execute the hundreds of billions of calculations per second required by these methods. This system runs at sixty frames per second at full high-definition resolution, making the interface transparent and allowing both subtle and dramatic interactions.

The group called Axes is composed of James Susinno, a talented software engineer, graphics developer, and musician, and Mark Stock, an accomplished new media artist and published scientist. They have been collaborating since 2012 on projects that push the limits of new human-computer interface technology, and are interested in exploring the role of humans in an increasingly technology-mediated world. They are happy to present this, their new piece, Everything is Made of Atoms.