Together with research institutions and creators in Japan and overseas, Miraikan has focused on exploring the possibilities of spherical imaging, seeking ways to utilize the Geo-Cosmos full appeal by making use of the characteristics of spherical imaging systems. Miraikan has two such systems, the Geo-Cosmos, a globe-like display that is the symbol of Miraikan, and the other is the Dome Theater GAIA, which is equipped with a full-dome, stereoscopic video system.
One commonality between the Geo-Cosmos and the Dome Theater GAIA is that they are both focused on spherical imaging, yet they have different perspectives: whether the sphere is viewed from the outside or from the inside. Just changing the perspective means that people’s understanding of the content and their experiences of spherical imaging are different. When it comes to the Geo-Cosmos, visitors can choose their favorite perspective, and sometimes experience looking at the outside of the globe while walking around it. On the other hand, visitors to the Dome Theater GAIA sit in designated locations and are surrounded by images and sound. A feature of the theater is that visitors can gain an immersive experience inside a globe.
In the future, we will proactively focus on research, development, and experimentation regardless of the physical or non-physical fields connected with spherical displays. We will continue to explore the possibilities of spherical imaging, and the development of these fields.
Japan Media Arts Festival Platform Award (FP Award) (2019-)
The Festival Platform Award (known as the “FP Award”) was newly established in 2019 during the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival, held by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. This award is presented to superior works from new proposals for planned exhibitions that make use of the characteristics of the installations and facilities, etc., in an institution or organization connected to the Media Arts Festival. In collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, in 2019, when the FP Award was established, Miraikan began calling for works related to spherical displays, making use of our experience in the Geo-Cosmos Content Contest.
One of the great features of Miraikan’s call for works related to spherical displays is that people can apply with incomplete works (plan proposals). We accept imaging works that make use of Miraikan’s spherical imaging system and how the application program works.
24th Japan Media Arts Festival Platform Award-winning Works
Festival Platform Award Award-winning Works
23th Japan Media Arts Festival Platform Award-winning Works
Festival Platform Award Award-winning Works
Geo-Cosmos Content Contest (GC3) (2014-2017)
An award that opens up new possibilities and forms of expression in spherical imaging
The Geo-Cosmos Content Contest, was held as part of Miraikan’s TSUNAGARI Project, which considers the future of life and Earth from multilateral perspectives. It was held three times, in 2014, 2015, and 2016, with the aim of opening up new possibilities and forms of expression using our globe-like display, the Geo-Cosmos, which was this project’s main tool.
To express cutting-edge imaging and to help stimulate the scientific data visualization community, the third time the competition was held, we established two more entry categories, Live Content and Idea, in addition to the existing Movie category. This expanded the creative fields eligible for entry. In addition, we developed and distributed a toolkit for Unity to create spherical imaging content and VR content, and held a technology information session for applicants.
Co-Development Research Project (2017-2018)
Together with OMNIBUS JAPAN INC., we used Miraikan’s Dome Theater GAIA and the Geo-Cosmos to carry out visual experiments and development from the perspectives of image expression, technology, and techniques. Noesis is a work of philosophical concept visualization created during the verification process of this project. It visualized concepts and ideas that we came up with when thinking about the roots of nature, space, and all beings from an artistic perspective.
This work was made public for the first time at MUTEK.JP Edition 2, held in October 2017, as content for the Dome Theater. At the time, it was technologically difficult to give an audiovisual performance by allocating live video produced in real-time from a computer to multiple projectors in accordance with the Dome Theater’s facilities. To create an audiovisual performance in 3D, we synchronized 2D real-time video from the live performance with the studio video preinstalled in the equipment, and experimented by layering each of the 2D and 3D projectors on the dome screen, which was successful. Over the next year, we conducted many experiments and verifications, including testing hardware aspects, and realized a full 3D audiovisual performance of this work at MUTEK.JP Edition 3 (2018). In addition, we made this work publicly available through the Geo-Cosmos globe display, according to a proposal from Miraikan. This developed a contrast between an encircling perspective and an objective perspective on the same day.
Co-Development Research Project consideration on floating feeling expression using the Geo-Cosmos (2015-2019)
With cooperation from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, we jointly verified the expression of a sense of depth using the Geo-Cosmos. In 2016, we displayed a variety of images on the Geo-Cosmos and carried out evaluations of the image quality of the spherical displays. In particular, we evaluated image quality performance in relation to expressing the texture of images, such as the atmosphere and the oceans. We developed a way of expressing a feeling of floating using motion parallax and summarized the findings of this research in an academic paper, which won the Society for Art and Science Forum 2017 Excellence Award.
In 2017, we used spectroscopic parallax to express a sense of depth, and verified this by wearing special glasses and experiencing a changing sense of depth in the images according to the distance from which we looked at the Geo-Cosmos. The outcomes of this research were summarized in an academic paper, which won the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST) 2018 Best Poster Award.
At Earth Camp 2019 “Welcome to the Geo-Cosmos Development Lab,” an event for Club Miraikan members, we introduced imaging with a sense of depth created via motion parallax and spectroscopic parallax using the Geo-Cosmos. We collected evaluations from participants and data from their experiences, and fed this back into our research.
Visualization Content Development (2016-2018)
The Geo-Cosmos has a function that enables it to project input from external images on the sphere without alteration. Miraikan’s visualization team has been conducting prototyping trials so we can make use of this function. The technology and know-how created through this is being used for GC3, workshops, Geo-Cosmos content creation, and more.
Music and live session
This content aimed to offer live sessions with images and music. Visitors could make Geo-Cosmos images into musical performances by manipulating keyboards and MIDI controls, and making it pulsate at the same time as the music at the venue. We tried this out as part of stage productions of music events held at Miraikan, and ran an event for members to experience it at Earth Camp 2019 “Welcome to the Geo-Cosmos Development Lab.”
PC based interactive content
This is a video game that can be played by up to four people at a time on a sphere, developed as interactive content using a computer. Using a smartphone in hand, participants manipulate paddles displayed on the Geo-Cosmos, and hit a ball with other participants. The rules are almost identical to those of the early video game Pong, but the field is spherical, and this creates unique difficulties and strategies. This content made participants aware of spherical thinking as they played.
Live video using a omnidirectional camera
This saw images of participants’ surroundings, captured using a omnidirectional camera (the RICOH THETA V) centered on a transparent acrylic sphere (around 1m in diameter), projected in real-time. By sticking colored paper on or painting the acrylic sphere, participants made colorful visuals appear next to their own images. This prototype was trialed as an event for members to experience at Earth Camp 2018 “Welcome to the Geo-Cosmos Development Lab.”