Halo Benders is an interactive video and sound environment that simulates Gravitational Lensing, the method by which astrophysicists and astronomers discover the evolution of galaxies and the shape of the universe. Described by Einstein as the “halo effect”, these aberrations of starlight form recognizable patterns that scientists use to trace the geometry of the universe and what we call home.
Using flashlights, participants explore a simulation of this natural phenomenon in a playful, real-time experience with video and sound. Interacting within a projected star field through a live video feed, users encounter 'lenses', as they bend light with its gravitational pull, creating images of scientifically recognized patterns such as: Einstein crosses, arcs, cloverleafs, twin quasars, triple images, Einstein rings and double Einstein rings. When a participant aligns her/his flashlight’s beam of light with the moving ‘lenses’ in the screen, patterns become visible. Sounds indicate the presence of recognizable patterns, providing positive feedback and amusement in this kinesthetic exploratory environment. Participants play the role of both the source and the observer learning intuitively how angles, height and distance affect the trajectory of the light source and the lens pattern. Medium: Max/MSP/Jitter, Live Video, Sound, Flashlights, VDMX.
Created at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory through a NASA Space Grant.
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