A View from the Arboretum

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
'Till it’s gone

 

Lately I have been looking through a high-end virtual reality (VR) headset, exploring a mutable and volatile planet. This is not any fully rendered, illusionary game world; instead, I’ve been immersed in an innovative scientific tool called EcoVR, being developed by Dr Tim Brown and his colleagues at the Australian National University (ANU). Tim Brown is director of the ANU node of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility and a research fellow with the Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. Phenomics is the study of physical, existential characteristics of an organism, distinct from that organism’s inherited and heritable genetic identity, or genome. Bringing VR into this field of research, Tim Brown is also something of a technology wrangler and futurist.

 

Image: A Vew of the Virtual National Arboretum Canberra, 2016. A snapshot from EcoVR in Shristi-VR, Tim Brown et al, Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, School of Computer Science, Australian National University, Ajay Limaye, ANU VizLab, National Computational Infrastructure.

Erica Seccombe is a visual artist based in Canberra and lectures at the ANU School of Art & Design and The Centre for Art History and Art Theory. Her practice ranges from traditional and photographic print media to experimental digital platforms using frontier scientific visualisation software. Erica's practice-led PhD research, 'GROW: Experiencing Nature in the Fifth Dimension' investigated time-resolved (4D) micro-X-ray Computed Tomography through immersive stereoscopic digital projection installations and 3D printing. Her interdisciplinary research is facilitated by the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics, Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE), and VizLab, National Computational Infrastructure NCI.