Design for Living

Clever people.

An immersive installation I directed for the 2013 Royal Academy of Engineering Summer Soiree. The challenge was creating a coherent experience from about a dozen engineering projects from diverse disciplines. These included new algorithms for video game AI, advanced microscopy, regenerative medicine, and immersive cinema itself.

The narrative began with project that improve how scientists take measurements, which moved into a second act where we looked at how these measurements could be applied in medicine. The midpoint has electronics professor David Howard telling us that engineering can prolong life, but can also make life worth living. It’s here that we turn to cultural outcomes, such as acoustic engineering and archaeological research. The third act takes us in a surprising direction, where philosopher Tom Stoneham introduces a 3D visualization of Proclus’ metaphysics (created for this film by Distant Future Animation Studio). We’re asked to consider what metaphysics can teach us alongside physical science, a provocative question as we end on a note on education, inspiring the next generation of engineers.

The film combined live action sequences with microscope imagery, and new animated content. It was fantastic to display real footage of the activity within a plant cell on a two-storey high screen; and to take MRI data of a person’s throat, load them into Blender 3D and perform a camera fly-through of their vocal tract. A fascinating project to direct.

The film ran in a cube-shaped cinema at the black tie event, presided by the Princess Royal.

Created for four-walls, it’s not possible to share the whole film. But here’s a single screen excerpt of Tom Stoneham speaking on metaphysics, with clips from Distant Future’s CGI shots of Proclus’ system: