Amid a sea of darkness lies a blank monitor – motionless and offline. Directly in front of the screen is someone on a simple exercise bike. As the user begins to pedal, a series of scenes unfolds on the monitor. When the pedaling stops so too do the images on monitor. This is not the typical way to enjoy a movie. There is no popcorn or comfy armrest here rather an innovative process: one that requires its audience to work for their entertainment.
Steven Evans is a professor and program coordinator at Durham College’s School of Media, Art & Design. Professor Evans encourages students to experiment with current technology, while improving and tweaking it to make their own creations. “[The experiment] is an amalgamation of other ideas and we’ve been building on our own experimentation that we’ve been doing over the past two or three years,” says Evans.
As a facilitator, Professor Evans, along with a pair of Durham College students, has designed a Kinetic Theatre Experiment. This experiment involves a stationary exercise bike, television screen, as well as a unique visual story written and produced by a Visual Arts student and a massive amount of complex digital coding.
This concept, while unique and innovative, is based on existing technology. There is the Swipe technology by Fibaro, which allows users to change content based on gestures and hand motions. Contex, a French water company, held a campaign in which women in a town square were required to pedal exercise bikes to make a man on screen strip. As the man was about to be completely revealed, a message covered his private parts that read ‘Congratulations, you have burned 2000 calories!’
For now the experiment rests in C152, waiting for its time in the spotlight. “At some point we would like to join with another program or institution and make it go live in a public space,” says Evans. “Ideally we’ll have it set up at Open House in the spring where prospective students can ride the bicycle and watch the movie play.”
The Kinetic Theatre Experiment isn’t the only technology you’ll be seeing from Evans. “We would like to set up a ‘Smart Room’ environment,” says Evans. “People would come in the room, and there would be cameras and sensors that recognize them and react to them.”
Evans and his students have even more tech on the horizon with plans for Ontario College’s 50th Anniversary. “We’ve been asked by the college to build an ‘Escape Room experience’ and some of these experiments will be used,” says Evans. “There are extensive plans going forward.”
The technology might seem a little futuristic: something akin to the Wii taken to the next step. However, this will be incorporated in countless aspects of our lives in coming years. Evans says, “The technology is already here.” Movies that require pedaling, content that changes based on hand gestures plus rooms that interact with guests – whatever the next product of this tech revolution is, it is guaranteed to change how we interact with the world around us.