Recombinant Media Labs at UCSD Roundup

Last Friday was the first road test for Recombinant Media Labs’s nomadic style of panoramic cinema. Here are excerpts shown live on Friday from a variety of artists that have developed RML modules over the years.

Selections from RML at UCSD.

The new install consists of 10 screens in a 2×3 rectangle, each screen having 12 feet width, and standing 6 feet 9 inches tall; this makes the whole area total 24 x 36 feet, with 360 degree surround projection.

When Peter Otto, Music Technology Director at UCSD and Director of Sonic Arts R&D at Calit2 (and long time Recombinant Media Labs friend and collaborator) approached us about creating a revised incarnation of our Recombinant Media Labs surround cinema space in their new experimental theater, we immediately started contemplating about how to fabricate a refreshed model that would be more portable, more technologically advanced and inclusive of the added innovations that had sprung out of our experiences with our two SF Bay Area locations. While RML’s fundamental design was integrated into the architecture of the auditorium, the screen setup was reconfigured as a “Cinebox”;  a floating panoramic  rectangle that is viewable on both sides of the suspended movie surfaces that can be more easily transported. While our preliminary visual playback was similar, we are currently developing an entirely revamped video engine solution based on a computer cluster enabling real time random access to content, more scalability and eventually even greater optical spatialization and graphic manipulation capabilities.

The UCSD Experimental theater contains a MeyerSound Constellation system, which enables the acoustics of the room to be morphed instantly with a system that is almost invisible to the eye unless you know where to look. The playback system features dedicated microphones and 28 MM-4 miniature loudspeakers for ambiance calculation, and 12 UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers + eight UMS-1P subwoofers. The sound of the Experimental Theater can literally be changed from extremely dead acoustic to a canyon at the touch of a button, and the results are very believable. The network also enables a variety of spatialization options on par with RML’s audio PA in many respects, and with further augmentation it seems this Meyer array will offer considerable diffusion variations to all of the 10 channel soundtrack material that has been created for the gallery video works.

The updated Recombinant mobile apparatus was constructed as a large group class project by Otto’s ICAM senior projects class at UCSD. It was a primarily a community project and RML received a great deal of dedicated assistance from undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and local denizens. The assemblage week was vigorously intensive, with several sleepless nights, and as a unit  we encountered many myriad technical obstacles that ranged from positioning trusses, to finding workarounds for isolated intermittent equipments, to fine tuning pixel image quality by calibrating projectors and signal transmitters.  Here is a timelapse video of the whole marathon week of building, with a second for an hour.

Building RML at UCSD Timelapse movie.

On the final day everything was consolidated, and were very excited about the results. After the RML surround cinema program there was a number of engaging media presentations by ICAM students as part of the Recombinant Serendipity week of exhibitions, discourse, and displays.

ICAM Recombinant Serendipity

Mittelstadt RML UCSD

Egbert Mittelstadt and Biosphere at RML/UCSD

RML’s alliance with UCSD demonstrates the beginning of  a more advanced and distributed network for experiential media habitats.  RML anticipates the testing of accelerating technologies and methodologies with UCSD and other research affiliates , especially as we scrutinize specifications for our upcoming annex installation with the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco. Watch for more news from RML in the near future.

It took the hard work of many people to make this installation possible. I would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to everyone who helped on this project on behalf of the entire Recombinant Media Labs team.

RML at UCSD Ryoichi

RML at UCSD Egbert

Panorama Selections Presented by:

Director: Naut Humon
Associate Director:Tana Sprague (ICAM 04)
Chief Technician: Barry Threw
Visual Coordination: Masako Tanaka

In Alliance With:

Peter Otto – Music Technology Director, Music Department at UCSD
Director of Sonic Arts R&D, Calit2
Resident Researcher at Center for Research in Computing
& the Arts (CRCA)/UCSD
RML @ UCSD Installation Director


Todd Margolis – Technical Director, CRCA
Rand Steiger – Composer, UCSD Music Chair
Sheldon Brown – New Media Artist, UCSD CRCA Director
Adrienne Jenik – New Media Artist, current UCSD Vis Arts Chair
Walter Cameron – UCSD Vis Arts, Screen and Rigging Design and Construction
Neal Bociek – UCSD Vis Arts, Screen and Rigging Design and Construction
Brett Stahlbaum – New Media Artist, ICAM Faculty Advisor
Candy Harris – Vis Arts, ICAM End of Year Event Planner
Jenn Stauffer – UCSD Music
Gabriel Johnston – UCSD Music
Seth Sandler – Screen Project Leader
Dave Corsello – Rigging Project Leader
Greg Dawe – Visualization Systems Engineer, CalIT2
Louis Hock – Installation Artist/Filmmaker, Recent UCSD Vis Arts Chair
Adrienne Jenik – New Media Artist, Current UCSD Vis Arts Chair
Tom DeFanti – Professor, Founder, EVL, Viz Scientist, CalIT2, Cinegrid Co-Founder
Tom Erbe – Studio Director, Lecturer, Music Software Author, UCSD Music
Laurin Herr – CineGrid
Larry Smarr – Professor, CalIT2 Director
Hector Bracho – AV Services Manager, CalIT2
Trevor Henthorn – Systems and Music Technology Manager, UCSD Music
Riccardo Canaviello – Business Development Consultant
Bonnie Wright – Spruce Street Forum Director, Music Curator
Gloria Poore – Urban Arts Pioneer, Screen Design and Seamstress
Emily Jankowskit – Contributor/artist (ICAM 09)
Francis Zaragosa – Production/ Performer (ICAM 09)
Mason Bretan – Production (ICAM 09)
Mike Carillo – Production (ICAM 09)
Natalie Arbino – Production/performer (ICAM 09)
Antonio Estrada – Production (ICAM 09)
Faith Tsai – production (ICAM 09)
Ben Hackbarth – UCSD, Multichannel Thinking
Rick Snow – UCSD, Multichannel Thinking
Cooper Baker, UCSD, Audio Engineering
Stephan Vankov – Laptop Musician/performer (ICAM 05)
Dustin Raphael – Performer (ICAM 09)
Barbara Jackson – UCSD Music Dept. Administration
Jurgen Schultz – Visualization Project Scientist, UCSD
Katharina Rosenberger – Composer, New Media Artist, UCSD

Special Thanks:

Holly Wang – ICAM Senior Project / Event Direction
Carol Hobson – UC DARNET, Past Administrative Director, CRCA
Miller Puckette – Professor, Associate Director, CRCA
Lev Manovich – New Media Theorist, Author, UCSD
Ramesh Ramesh Rao – Professor, Director CalIT2 UCSD

Affiliate Entities:

UCSD Music Department —- UCSD Visual Arts Department
Dean of Arts and Humanities
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

RML AV segments by;

All gratitudes to:



MASAKO TANAKA’S treatment of
featuring music by OTOMO YOSHIHIDE
video assemblage and edits by MASAKO TANAKA
with the help of Stefanie Ku  & Brian O’Reilly
& thanks to Asphodel Records




Thanks to:

Mitzi Johnson & Asphodel Records
Edwin van der Heide
Vance Galloway
Bryan Gibbs
Mixture 151
Alex Oropeza
Matia Simovich
Chris Musgrave