Virtual Reality + Generative Sound *


Prof. Semi Ryu

Department of Kinetic Imaging, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA


M° Claudio Scozzafava

Dr. Stefano Faralli

Department of Computer Science, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy 





Infinite Cemetery is a poetic, virtual-sound-generation space, driven by the performer’s interaction data. A dancer’s movement, hand gestures in front of a webcam, or user’s mouse interaction will motivate the events in virtual space and generate the real-time spatial sound, which will explore cognitive aspects of memory and perception in a spatial environment.

Eventually, this project will be incorporated with a dance performance, which will explore the relationship of the physical and mental body in real and virtual space. Infinite Cemetery is a symbolic cemetery exploring new relationships and consciousness between image, sound and the performer. It is a trans-disciplinary collaboration project under the same idea of generation, in both a conceptual and a technical means.


MAX/MSP and VIRTOOLS will receive data from CHAMBRE created by University of Rome, Computer Sceince department, which will allow interesting interaction and cooperation between differnt systems which will constantly generate a new connection between performer, sound and 3D graphics.




Original concept & 3D virtual space:

Semi Ryu, Kinetic Imaging, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA


Generative sound composition: Claudio Scozzafava


CHAMBRE: Department of Computer Science, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy

Paolo G. Bottoni, Stefano Faralli, Anna Labella, Claudio Scozzafava


Plug-In to connect VIRTOOLS with CHAMBRE:  Stefano Faralli



Ritual: Loveletter readings to objects


Infinite Cemetery illustrates an ironical concept of life, bringing spirit to daily objects represented by virtually-rendered objects. Infinite Cemetery is filled with the voice of love letters written to each writer’s favorite object, which should illuminate the personal relationship with and memory of our daily objects. The constant reading of love letters evokes life in objects conventionally known as inanimate, in this symbolic cemetery.


Love letter example:


Dear, dear, Gyroscope,


You, my little master of the forces, are my most favorite object!  Many days since your arrival have I spent in admiration of the strange dance that you do on your red pedestal.  Your spinning could defy the balance of a thousand drunken sailors!  The string that came as companion is now old and tethered, but once tense, springs you back from the inanimate.  I am illuminated by the reflected colors as they bounce off your steel shimmer.  I feel strange sway as I might swing you from side to side; I am pulled back the opposite way.  An even balance is made by your own order, uniquely so.  I seek many more years of watching your dance, dear gyroscope, and I hope you shall not tire as the master of the forces…




A similar process can be shown in Korean shaman rituals where objects are transformed into a special meaning, acquiring a spiritual power from the ritural process. At the beginning of the ritual, Shaman begins to build her relationship with objects called “Mu-Gu” (shaman’s object), in order to obtain her trans-state of shaman. Puppet, fan, knife and bells often appear as Mu-Gu that are usually buried underground and found by the shaman. The Shaman shakes it or dances with it, making Mu-Gu’s spirit come alive and activating a trans-state of shaman. Objects appear as mediator between the dead and the spirit in shaman ritual.


In Infinite Cemetery, all the objects in the virtual space could be read as shaman’s objects that will act as a transparent membrane between life/death and real/virtual. It raises questions about our notion of “life”, focusing on the process of life-giving, rather than the status of life-given. Life is not only the physical status of being, but also something emerging from a relationship and spiritual connection in process. In virtual space, virtual objects are gaining life by being interested or loved by users. Infinite Cemetery is a symbolic space to bring a new romance and life, which plays out an infinite paradox between life/death and real/virtual. 







Figure 1: Screenshots from Infinite Cemetery



How VIRTOOLS, MAX-MSP and CHAMBRE can cooperate?

Figure 2 shows the main architecture of our system. Our equipment is a distributed interactive system composed of three subsystems: CHAMBRE [BFLS04], MAX/MSP, VIRTOOLS. CHAMBRE is used to build a system of virtual sensors, (a virtual sensor derives from the transposition of a real stimulus into a virtual environment). All the stimuli carried by the apparatus of virtual sensor, are sent to MAX/MSP and VIRTOOLS in the form of messages. Finally MAX/MSP and VIRTOOLS map this information into multimedia objects.

All the messages are transmitted from CHAMBRE and received by MAX/MSP and VIRTOOLS using two TCP/IP connections. We use the embedded communication sub-system of CHAMBRE, coupled with the MAX/MSP object “netreceive” and with a special plug-in created by Stefano Faralli, for the communication with VIRTOOLS.



Figure 2: Architecture of Infinite Cemetery


MAX-MSP receives from CHAMBRE a formatted string that is the result of one (or more) user's position in front of the webcam. MAX-MSP translates CHAMBRE's string and uses it to control some audio processing algorithms. The audio samples, containing some "love letters", are subject to various audio processing algorithms in respect to the interaction of the user (proximity, position, etc.). The user chooses an object and, through his or her position in the mapped space, interacts with the multimedia system. More information about CHAMBRE was described in GA 2004 Proceedings.


* work in collaboration with Prof. Paolo G. Bottoni, PhD ( and Prof. Anna Labella (

Department of Computer Science, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy