Project overview

In collaboration with the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces (SocialNUI) participated in the SummerSalt Festival, an outdoor festival led by the Melbourne Recital Centre supported by Creative Victoria and the Victorian State Government. Running from 23 January 2015 to 21 February 2015, SummerSalt offered a program of music, dance, circus and theatre to celebrate all the Melbourne Arts Precinct, which is home to such institutions as the VCA, Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne Recital Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria, has to offer.

SocialNUI and the VCA created a large installation called Encounters that explored the world of human-computer interaction, or HCI for SummerSalt. The ambitious project united artists with computing experts to produce an engaging new audience experience that was open free to the public. Encounters was set across three platforms presided over by a large screen. The space was filled with light and sound that responded to audience movement, creating a dialogue between the human and the machine. As the audience entered the space Microsoft Kinect sensors detected their presence, triggering sounds and lighting effects based on not only what participants were doing but what they’re doing relative to everybody else. Every audience member was represented on the screen. Particular actions will change that representation. So if audience members jumped or came together with other people the way they were represented changed. Three VCA dance students and graduates added to the experience by joining with audience members while sporting wearable technology, which projected their movements in detail on the screen. Approximately 1200 people went through the installation over four Saturday nights.

While Encounters offered a unique audience experience, it also provided a unique research opportunity. The researchers from SocialNUI had the opportunity to make their technologies available for public enjoyment, while learning more about how people interact with them. The project took computational innovation from the lab to the streets and allowed SocialNUI and the VCA, two very different disciplines, to come together for this unique collaboration—the first of its kind at the University of Melbourne.


Wouters, N., Downs, J., Harrop, M., Cox, T., Oliveira, E., Webber, S., Vetere, F., & Andrew Vande Moere, A. V. (2016) Uncovering the Honeypot Effect: How Audiences Engage with Public Interactive Systems. In Proceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2016). New York: ACM Press [PDF]

Webber, S., Harrop, M., Downs, J., Cox, T., Wouters, N., & Moere, A. V. (2015). Everybody Dance Now: Tensions Between Participation and Performance in Interactive Public Installations. InProceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction (OzCHI 2015) New York: ACM Press, pp. 284–288 [DOI]


3RRR Byte Into It, 25 February 2015

Radio Interview: Encounters Project

The Age, 5 February 2015

Southbank springs to life for SummerSalt arts festival

Project team

  • Alex Beck

    Alex is a lecturer in Music Production and Audio Engineering at the Victorian College of the Arts, School of Contemporary Music. Alex has worked in recording studios throughout Melbourne and enjoys long walks on the beach, hot sunny days and cars without air conditioning.

  • Cathryn Coady

    Cathyann Coady

    Currently undertaking a Masters in Contemporary Art at VCA, Cathyann’s art practice includes performance, video and instillations that investigate the nature of mood and its associated psychological human conditions.

  • Travis Cox

    Cox’s practice-led research explores the role programming languages play within computer art. His artworks reflect the underlying systems that define them — seeking to highlight the role of code plays in understanding and interacting with both artistic and everyday interfaces. Most recently Cox’s sound and movement responsive artworks have been shown at The Windsor Hotel’s Marvel, and as part of Infundibular at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

  • John Downs

    John is a researcher in the SocialNUI centre, focused on the role of NUI technologies in public spaces. John recently submitted a PhD thesis in the area of human-computer interaction, and holds degrees in computer science and psychology.

  • Paul Doyle


    Paul is a Melbourne-based production and event manager. He is a Production Coordinator at the Victorian College of the Arts and has previously worked as a Technical Coordinator for the Melbourne White Night Festival and a Production Manager at the Melbourne Theatre Company and Orchestra Victoria.

  • Asher R H Elazary

    Asher is a musician studying at The University of Melbourne, and has pursued many areas in the audio world including mixing mastering and audio programming. He has created a variety of interactive applications and audio applications and specializes in synthesis and MAX/MSP.

  • Paul Fletcher

    Paul is a Lecturer in Animation at the VCA School of Film & Television. He is an animation, digital video and sound artist. He has facilitated short courses and group production projects integrating environment, science and art themes and has an interest in the relationship between sound and animated motion.

  • Kat Franks

    Kat is the Centre Manager at the Microsoft SocialNUI centre in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. Before joining Melbourne she worked in the Graphic Design industry for over 10 years in various studio management and client service roles.

  • Joe Gentry

    Currently studying a bachelor of visual arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, Joe’s practice is concerned with new media, including 3D graphic images, animation and printing.

  • Diego Iida Giraldes


    Diego is a exchange student in University of Melbourne who studies Electric Engineering, option Computation at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo(Brazil). He worked in Interlab: Laboratory of Interactive Technologies of the University of São Paulo where he developed a software to detection of postures hands for direct manipulation of a 3D virtual book using Processing and Kinect.

  • Steven Hadley

    Currently studying his Bachelor of fine arts at the Victorian College of the Arts Steven Hadley’s practice involves the exploration of new media and collective thought as a means of creating artwork.

  • Mitchell Harrop

    Mitchell Harrop Web

    Mitchell is a lecturer and PhD candidate in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. His thesis concerns the negotiation of rules and experiences by players in digital multiplayer games. He has has dabbled as a software engineer and has worked at the CSIRO.

  • Leanne Hermosilla

    Leanne is a PhD candidate in the School of Art at the VCA. Her research engages in a practice-led study of marginalised and alternative knowledge as a methodology for art making. Recent works merge ideas and information from the doctrines of both science and pseudo-science in order to consider how and why various kinds of understanding and experience are more or less valued in the hierarchies of human epistemologies.

  • Thuong Hoang

    Thuong Hoang is currently a Research Fellow at the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces. He completed his PhD in computer science at the University of South Australia in 2014. His research interests are in augmented reality, wearable computer, and natural user interfaces. He has experience with top-mounted Kinect in previous research projects.

  • Zaher Joukhadar

    Zaher is research fellow (software engineer) at SocialNUI center. He is currently responsible for designing, implementing, and delivering software projects to support SocialNUI research. He received his master degree in Information Technology from The University of Melbourne. He has bachelor degree with honors in Computer Science specialized in Machine Learning and Natural Languages Processing from the University of Aleppo. Zaher has been working on projects involving machine learning and image processing since 2010.

  • Rosie Leverton

    Rosie is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). She completed her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced examination in 2013, training at Steps Performing Arts School with Rachelle Kellett and Angela Hill. Rosie is interested in the creation of performance art involving integration of dance and other art forms such as film, visual projection and sound.

  • Joanne Lichti

    Joanne Lichti is undertaking a Master of Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2015. She has a BFA in Photography from RMIT University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Performance Creation in Choreography from the VCA. Her solo visual performance work uses choreographic improvisation and video to represent the lived body.

  • Kaitlyn McConnell

    Kaitlyn graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2014. In June 2012 she was hired to choreograph and perform as a part of a Music Video for Dark Matter of Story Telling. In 2013 she choreographed and danced in a fashion film for an RMIT student, which was entered into a Fashion Film competition. She also had the privilege of representing the VCA at the Margret Lawrence Festival earlier in her third year of VCA. In her final semester at VCA, she presented her first dance film installation work called Mere.

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    Andrew McLaughlin is a photographer, musician and educator from Melbourne. Since completing his BFA and MA in Media Arts at RMIT Andrew has exhibited, released and performed his works both locally and internationally. Andrew is also the Digital Programs Coordinator at The Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne).

  • Amy McNickle

    Amy is a Melbourne based multi-media composer, with interests particularly in sound for film and interactive installations.

  • Eduardo A. Oliveira

    During his Masters and later on his PhD, Eduardo researched about complex adaptive systems, intelligent agents, context awareness, social networks and middleware. He is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Department of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne. Parallel to his research, Eduardo worked since 2004 as a Senior System Engineer and Technical Consultant at CESAR (Recife-Pernambuco/Brazil) researching/developing/leading Motorola, Samsung, Compal Electronics and Gemalto international projects.

  • Max Piantoni

    Max is a device for turning amusing ideas into finished objects. His films have screened at festivals around the country and his 'Art' is regularly exhibited in galleries around town. Enjoy it all online at

  • Manoel Horta Ribeiro

    Manoel Ribeiro is a Computer Science student at UFMG (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil), currently undertaking an exchange program at the University of Melbourne. His areas of interest are Machine Learning, Data Mining and Graphic Computing.

  • Juliano Coletto Rotta

    Juliano is a third year computer science undergraduate student at the University of Melbourne. He’s Brazilian, living in Melbourne with studies sponsored by the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development. Juliano has academic background on OpenCV and OpenGL with work on projects including computer vision.

  • Tillman Schäuble

    Tillman Schäuble is a composer who predominantly approaches music from a psychological view point. The interest he has in the human mind, and the ability music has in guiding thought and emotion, allows him to enjoy creating many different types of music. His favourite type of composition though, is that which compliments another art form. Be it film, dance or installation work, he finds the addition of music a fascinatingly powerful tool.

  • Thomas Schmocker

    Thomas Schmocker is a young composer studying at the VCA. His practice encompasses music for theatre, dance and installation pieces, most of which feature a breakdown in the traditional audience-performer relationship and a meeting of the electronic with the acoustic.

  • Maize Wallin

    Maize Wallin is a Melbourne based composer (technically educated at VCA), a curator and creator of live art shows. While working predominantly with dancers and visual artists (highlights being CONJUNCT) Most recently she has run the Game Art Melbourne Exhibition and co-directed Glitchmark’s Holograph conference, as well as speaking at various game development and digital arts events. She is currently co-directing CTRL_Coda, a musical instrument videogame controller exhibition and performance.

  • Emilie Walsh

    Emilie Walsh was born in France, and has a Master in Fine Art from Marseille University. She recently moved to Melbourne to start a PhD in Fine Art at the VCA. Her artistic research focus is on adventure: what is it today and where can it be found? She aims to provide possible answers to these questions through different art project in video, photo, drawing and printmaking.

  • Sarah Webber

    Sarah is an interaction design researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne focusing on mobile and pervasive technologies for wellbeing and engagement with culture. With a background in IT for education and for non-profit organisations, she has a keen interest in how future technologies might play a role in creating strong, healthy communities.

  • Niels Wouters

    Niels is a PhD candidate at the University of Leuven (Belgium). He has a background in computer science and architecture. In his research, Niels investigates the social and architectural qualities of media architecture (i.e. the integration of display media in urban space). His research is characterised by a critical, inclusive and explorative approach to the various aspects that are involved in the design, integration, and continuity of media architecture.

  • Matt Zambon

    Matt is an international student of South African origin and has recently completed his second year of Interactive Composition at the VCA. He mostly identifies himself as a pop/rock musician however, drawing inspiration from a multitude of different people, places and things, he constantly writes music of varied genres and styles.