By Jenn Bates
The Cube is a blank canvas—a completely black box. It is a space for artistic exhibits and installations, virtual reality explorations, intimate performances or even simply a meeting room. It is ambiguous, yet malleable.
Within the $100 million Moss Center for the Arts, the Cube provides a setting in which to showcase the latest in technological advancements in combination with interdisciplinary learning. At 50 feet wide, 40 feet long and 32 feet high, it is the first facility of its kind to that scale.
“The Cube is certainly a unique facility, with few like it in the world. We can make a comparison to the ‘Allosphere’, which is housed at the University of California – Santa Barbara,” says Adam Soccolich, operations manager for the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT).The Cube is shared between ICAT and the Center for the Arts.
The Cube is four-stories tall and cost nearly $15 million to build. It incorporates state-of-the-art technical systems with an environment capable of promoting augmented reality exhibits, wave field synthesis and holystone sound display interaction, synchronized data capture including infra-red motion capture, audio and visual, physiological and interaction signals.
The Cube is “a highly adaptable space for research and experimentation, immersive environments, intimate performances, audio and visual installations, and experiential investigations of all types,” according to Soccolich. Unlike CAVE (Computer Assisted Virtual Environment)-type environments, which can only create individual virtual experiences, the Cube allows for multi-person and social interaction with data at scale, he explains.
The space also includes multiple level catwalk galleries and a real-time audio-visual rendering system. “In the future, we plan to expand our interdisciplinary research using the facility in the area of data exploration,” Soccolich adds. The Cube can also be used in research areas like virtual versus real world applications, human performance modeling and studies, gaming and social environments, and abstract data interaction and exploration.
A highly adaptable and flexible space, the unlimited creative capabilities of the Cube reflect the overall mission of the Moss Center for the Arts: to transform lives through exploration and engagement with the arts and creative process.
Jenn Bates is a Virginia Tech graduate, class of 2014. She majored in communications and plans to pursue an advanced degree in journalism, as well as develop a magazine writing career.