MIEKO MURAO

Mieko Murao is an artist, art-director, designer, and serial entrepreneur
based in Boston

Projects

AMUSEUM

Amuseum is a project to create an immersive art experience collaborating with designers, artists, and performers, utilizing projection mapping, spatial sounds, augmented reality (AR), traditional and non-traditional mediums.

What is an “Immersive” art experience?

Unlike conventional museums, immersive art museums allow visitors to touch and/or interact with the art. The art is non-static; by incorporating sensors and various technologies, it can evolve (according to certain conditions met by the audience’s participation). This encourages the audience to become part of the art.

Why sensors?

Sensor technology allows a contactless way to interact with the art. Incorporating sensors allows gestures to be converted into certain signals that commands programs to run certain actions, which can assist or replace physical controls such as buttons, touchpads, etc. There is a certain level of novelty at this time, and it can be a way to interject excitement into the interaction.

Why Immersive art?

As a designer and business person, one of my missions is to create new demands and desires for products and services, and add value to them, which can be added using various apparatuses. Having sustainability in mind, the current market system which often produces over-consumption behaviors is a concern of mine. Instead of producing more ‘things’ that quickly become landfill, especially because of planned obsolescence, I have become more interested in producing intangible, non-physical products. In other words, I am transitioning towards creating and selling experiences and services, as a way to make less junk in the world.

Comparisons to conventional art museum


Conventional museumImmersive museum
Art placementStaticElastic, interactive
Sound / MusicQuiet (no music)Loud, lively, energetic
Relationship to artObserverParticipant, part of the art, collaborator
Rules, how to enjoyThere are instructions, arrows, and guidelinesOften no directions or explanations for the art itself; intuitivity 
DemographicFans of artStudents of artArt patrons
Ages are selective to those who can well-behave and follow guidelines
Open entry point (not selective of relationship to art)

All ages
InteractivityLow; in most cases it is not allowed to touch the art on display or any other interaction with the art
High; touching the objects on display is, in most cases, encouraged. When in pandemic mode, it can retain its interactive nature through contactless ways, using sensors, AR, etc.
Popular mediumFramed paintings, sculptures on pedestals, objects in glass cases, Projectors, laser lights, sensors, camera, controllers 
Overall feelingFeels formal and sometimes aloof to those not versed in artFeels casual and closer to the feeling of going to an amusement park


Why spatial audio/sound?

With spatial sound, it is possible to use object-based mixing and spatial visualizers for placement of sound source anywhere in a physical room. This allows immersive environments to be created outside of VR headsets. This is just one aspect of spatial sound. As for immersive experiences in a physical environment, the audience can be submerged in sound, literally, coming from four corners of the room.

Visions for the future

This pop-up space wouldn’t have happened without my thesis advisor, Professor Ian Condry, who is so generous for offering me his office space for this project. He researches spatial sound and created the Spatial Sound Lab at MIT. I’m very excited about the collaboration between my digital art creations and his spatial sound technology. As this is the first in the series of pop-ups and experimental spaces as the immersive art space and gallery, my vision is to continue expanding this project beyond MIT.  

User research

With human centered design at the core, I will conduct user research (qualitative and quantitative) and collect relevant data about expectations for immersive art experiences. I will be setting up stations for the audience to participate in surveys and interviews, next to the gallery.

First pop-up show “Ohanami” at MIT

I’m planning to make a room of 14N -423 turn into an immersive art popup exhibition and open for public throughout April.
Hanami, which means “flower viewing” in Japanese, is the traditional custom for enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms. It is synonymous with public picnics, friends, and families huddling down under the trees with food and drinks. Since this pop-up is held during the spring, I wanted to tie in a part of the Japanese tradition relevant to the springtime.

 【 The use of Quadraphonic sound system  】
Synchronization with sensors allows triggering sound loops from each corner of the room, allowing the audience to compose music on the spot. The sounds used for the loop will be based on the ‘theme’ of the space, for example, sounds designed to make one think of Japan. The loops will synchronize through music software, ex. Ableton, allowing easy improvisation that always lands on musical results.
Signal conversion: Leap (gestures) > MIDI channel and CC messages > MIDI mapping > trigger loops in Ableton.

 【 Using AR 】

  • Designing and using AR posters to promote immersive art space, and attract audiences to the space.
  • There will also be various AR triggers/elements in the art space for audience interaction.

 【 Interactive art using LEAP sensor 】

  • LEAP sensors let the audience use simple gestures to change, for example, graphics projected onto the walls or change music/sounds, placement, volume etc.
  • Instead of placing instructions that say something like “please move your hand over the sensor”, I’d like to incorporate objects that make the audience move their hands in certain ways that trigger sensor requirements. (For example, let the audience hold a calligraphy brush and make brush strokes on a washi paper. And the LEAP would detect the hand’s motion to do something to the graphic)