(Ben Chang, Geoff Baum, Dan St. Clair, Robb Drinkwater, Eleni Kostis, Hyeyun Park, Mark Baldridge, Hyunjoo Oh)
Synthecology is a multi-user virtual reality environment for creating distributed, collaborative soundscapes. Participants in Synthecology collect, plant, grow, and cultivate a garden of strange plants from seed pods that come floating over the ocean. Each plant brings with it sounds ranging from field recordings to musical instruments to spoken-word stories to abstract sonic textures, creating a constantly evolving spatialized soundscape composition.
While many virtual environments are primarily visual, Synthecology is just as much a sonic environment as a visual one. As a multi-user participatory artwork, Synthecology also uses the activities of sharing, combining, and playing sounds as an immediate and familiar situation for social interaction.
Synthecology was first exhibited at the 2005 Wired NextFest at Chicago's Navy Pier, with simultaneous live connections to immersive displays at the University of Illinois and others in Los Angeles, San Diego, Indiana, and Buffalo. Synthecology was produced through a collaboration between the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Immersive Environments Lab and the non-profit group Applied Interactives, with support from the University of Illinois at Chicago Electronic Visualization Lab and (art)n Studio.