The Aural Aura Project
Aural Aura is a computer vision and sound installation/performance that visualizes color frequencies and sonifies resonances of key energy points of the body, generated through movement and triggered using sensors. The project aspires to enhance energy management through a mapping of color, sound and movements based on the Shaolin 18 Lohan hands, the fundamental chi Kung exercises used for meditation since 527 BCE in China.
Active and/or passive bodily movements trigger specific sound frequencies and colors mapped to body energy centers (chakras).The goal of Aural Aura is to to unite sound, color and dance in a fluidly attuned communion that transcends the performer, and ideally the audience into a hyper reality that approaches a spiritual experience.
The Project Structure
The nature of Aural Aura is fivefold involving computer vision, a wearable interface, an astral body projection, musical compositions and sensors.
The bodysuit is the controller triggering sounds and visual effects according to the readings of the attached sensors. A choreography of 8 moves measured by the sensors, determines which sounds and images are generated. The sensor bodysuit acts as an instrument capable of playing the 8 tone scale resembling the lydian mode scale, that is, the white keys of the piano. The wearable interface maps human body movements to the associated body erergy center (chakra), sound and color.
A pair of gloves use two Flex sensors, one soft potentiometer, one FSR and soft switches, to provide continuous controllers and switches affecting rhythm, pitch, reverb and delay. The gloves went to multiple design variations. In the final design of the glove I used soft switches made of conductive fabric and sowed the remaining wire wrap onto the surface of the glove. For an update please check the link Musical Gloves
The Astral Body
An exoskeleton wearable layer, the astral body dress, physically extends outwards from the central bodysuit, representing the aura and serving as a canvas for projecting images. The astral body dress is used for projection to visualize the aura in three dimensional space rather than on a screen. Visual effects projected on screen merge with the astral body dress color effects to simulate the aura.
Computer Vision Projection
As camera and computer track movement, the screen/body projection reflects body energy centers (chakras ) triggered by glowing the equivalent colors, while the corresponding sounds are generated in realtime
The musical compositions attempt to capture the ethereal aspect prevalent in the visual representation of the aura. The estoreric aspects of music inform the process of sound design as different energy points are mapped to distinct instrumental sounds and musical intervals based on the Pythagorean tuning system. Sounds convolve harmoniously into each other as gestural movements trigger different energy points (chakras). Pure oscillators are synthesized into alpha and delta vibrations, intervals and resonances that accompany the choreography of movements. The low vibrational frequencies used help induce meditative states. Sound does not accompany the dance but is instead created by the dancer.
Mapping Movement, Color and Sound
Aural Aura relies on a mapping between energy point (chakra), color, sound frequency and movement, to produce a synesthetic experience that physically manifests the invisible and inaudible nature of the aura. The mapping of color to sound is based on “Rainbow Resonance”, a project I developed in Spring 2008, which assigns sound frequencies to colors in an intelligible manner by transposing light wavelengths 40 octaves below their spectrum to match the audible spectrum of the electromagnetic field. Aural Aura adds the element of movement to achieve an immersive synaesthetic experience.
Chi Kung (Qigong) healing exercises
The performance seeks a balancing of the energies of the body, through an alignment of the chakras using sound vibrations in conjunction with corresponding colors, as chi kung movements activate the body energy centers.
Chi Kung began when prehistoric man discovered how to manipulate breath, as a form of cosmic energy, and according to Chinese records by 2700 BCE it had become an important aspect of chinese medicine. The earlier type of Chi Kung was probably a form of meditative dance which encouraged energy balance in the body. Chinese martial arts, especially Shaolin Kungfu make use of Chi Kung to enhance fighting abilities. Carrying the Moon is one of the best exercises in Chi Kung and can be practiced in many styles. A Chinese saying tells us “You need not worry about growing old, so long as your spine is young”. Carrying out the exercise daily enhances youthfulness and health at 60 and beyond and strengthens the kidneys, thus enhancing sexual vitality.
When the 8 shaolin moves are performed the chakra centers are activated allowing for a connectedness between body, mind and spirit, that enables a “balancing” of the energies to occur.