Director, Allosphere Research Laboratory, California Nanosystems Institute;
Professor, Media Arts and Technology and Music; Director, Center for Research in
Electronic Art Technology, University of California, Santa Barbara.
JoAnn Kuchera-Morin is a composer, Professor of Media Arts and Technology and Music, and a researcher in multimodal media systems content and facilities design. Her years of experience in digital media research led to the creation of a multi-million dollar sponsored research program for the University of California—the Digital Media Innovation Program. She was Chief Scientist of the Program from 1998 to 2003. The culmination of JoAnn’s creativity and research is the AlloSphere, a 30-foot diameter, 3-story high metal sphere inside an echo-free cube, designed for immersive, interactive scientific and artistic investigation of multi-dimensional data sets. Scientifically, the AlloSphere is an instrument for gaining insight and developing bodily intuition about environments into which the body cannot venture— abstract higher-dimensional information spaces, the worlds of the very small or very large, and the realms of the very fast or very slow. Artistically, it is an instrument for the creation and performance of avant-garde new works and the development of new modes and genres of expression and forms of immersion-based entertainment. JoAnn serves as the Director of the AlloSphere Research Facility located within the California NanoSystems Institute, Elings Hall, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. JoAnn earned a Ph.D. in composition from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.
Work environment and institutional setting
The AlloSphere Research Facility is a next-generation, large-scale audio and visual immersive laboratory used for scientific studies and as an instrument for the creation and performance of avant-garde new works, and the development of entirely new modes and genres of expression and forms of immersion-based entertainment. The AlloSphere can represent phenomena at scales ranging from the subatomic to the entire universe. Collaborators at the facility typically partner with scientists/businesses who supply models, data, and questions; our role is to present data in a new way that is both insightful and beautiful. The collaborators are agnostic to content. At the AlloSphere, artists, engineers, and scientists are joining forces to advance research and discovery. The media artists have expertise in mapping complex data terrains visually and sonically; our domain researchers understand what is important in their data and work closely with us to map this information; and our engineering colleagues build new media systems with content driving technology.
The AlloSphere was designed to encourage creativity and to facilitate research collaborations in an environment that can simulate reality. The AlloSphere is one of the largest immersive scientific instruments in the world containing unique features such as true 3D, 360-degree projection of visual and aural data, and sensing and camera tracking for interactivity. The main research/presentation space consists of a three-story, near-to-anechoic room containing a custom-built close to spherical screen, ten meters in diameter. More than thirty researchers can stand in the center of dimensional information. The AlloSphere is situated at one corner of the California NanoSystems Institute building, Elings Hall at the University of California, Santa Barbara.