aurora room
november 2016
In collaboration with Miami based artist Emmett Moore, Aurora Room is an immersive and responsive installation addressing the psychological effects of the built environment. Visitors interact with sensor-controlled projections and color patterns based on a series of auroratone films developed in the 1940s used to treat different forms of psychosis.

Auroratone films were developed in the 1940s by filmmaker Cecil Stokes using audio waves on crystallizing chemicals and polarized light to produce soothing synesthetic visual effects. The films were used to treat traumatized soldiers, juvenile delinquents and mental patients. 18 short films accompanied by music were combined to create a 30 minute long movie, Music in Color. Of the original 18 films, "When the Organ Played Oh Promise Me" is the only surviving film. With the help of The Academy of Arts and Motion Picture Sciences in Los Angeles and Walter Forsberg, an archivist based in New York the film was scanned and digitized for this project.
lead
Rodolphe el-Khoury
Christopher Chung
Emmett Moore
team
Haochi Zhang
Zhengrong Hu
Clarisse Lopez
Samantha Jimenez
Pratyush Rustagi
role
My involvement with this project was at RAD-UM (rad-um.com) in which I was one of the Lead Designers while overseeing the production and fabrication of the prototype.
type
installation
physical computing
interactive
auroratone films
The following are screenshots from the only surviving auroratone film "When the Organ Played Oh Promise Me".
A kit of parts used to construct the frames holding the "light rods".
A kit of parts used to construct each 3' "light rod" module.
At the basis of this immersive installation are these 3' custom made modules. Each of these modules have approximately 4 high powered RGB LEDs (they vary depending on where they are situated in the grid). Each of these 3W RGB LEDs are individually controlled by a microcontroller and is held by a 3D printed housing that attaches to a steel flat bar. The steel flat rod is incased by a transparent tube, which has a reflective mylar on the back half. The 3' modules assemble to become 9' tall (3 modules to create one "column"). Shown in the plan below, there are a total of thirty-two 9' rods, 16 of them on each side.

Contrary to stereotypical displays, the intention of these modules is to shine on a surface rather than looking at the LEDs directly. As seen below, the effect is more of a soft low-resolution image as opposed to a high-definition display. The resulting effect invokes a similar effect found in the auroratone films.
Exploded axonometric of one three-foot "light rod" module.
Analysis of the effects from varying grid spacing (5" vs 7.5" vs 10") between the LEDs, the rods, and distance from surface.
The Aurora Room temporary installation was displayed at the meeting house in a room approximately 14' x 14' x 13'. Frames were constructed to hold the 32 total rods 9' tall. A curtain was placed in front of the rods masking the entire room. This was to evoke a similar feel to a hospital bed in reference to the purpose of the original auroratone films used to treat traumatized soldiers, juvenile delinquents and mental patients. A motion sensor was placed on the ceiling to detect movement within the space. Any movement would trigger the rods to display an effect similar to that found in the video, while an absence of movement would be treated to one of the 18 original auroratone films - "When the Organ Played Oh Promise Me".
Plan of the temporary immersive installation.
Exploded axonometric of the frames to hold the light rods.
Any movement would trigger the effects of the custom rods built for the immersive installation.
Non-movement would be treated to the playing of "When the Organ Played Oh Promise Me", 1 of 18 original auroratone films.