Turbulent Minds

Open OHIO is an initiative at Ohio University that brings together people from different walks of life to discuss topics affecting the local community. Their "Navigating Turbulence" exhibit featured five pieces created by members of the OU community that bridged art and science. The works were shown in Baker Center, Alden Library, and the Dairy Barn Arts Center in spring 2019.

Turbulent Minds is a series of three interactive pieces that replicate psychological symptoms that many people deal with daily and how they interfere with simple tasks. Played individually or together, each experience has a simple goal, but you will have to navigate or work around the symptoms to reach it.

"Number 1" was an audio-only piece that replicated auditory hallucinations using ambisonic/360 audio, live audio recording and distortion, and randomized effects.

"Number 2" replicates some of the symptoms those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) experience and how these symptoms can get in the way of even the smallest of tasks. Participants complete prompted tasks to get ready for work while facing obsessive and intrusive thoughts that need to be completed before continuing other tasks. I created the environment entirely in Maya and Unity.

"Number 3" is a representation of the last time I experienced depression that almost led to suicide due a reaction to medication. Created in Unity for the Samsung Gear headset, I wanted to focus on the type of depression that has no feeling other than maybe that of being trapped. Eventually, the participant will decide to "end the game" by removing the headset. Unlike a screen, once the headset is removed, the participant can no longer see or experience the "game."

Each of these experiences had some randomness built in and each player would experience them in a unique way. The sounds in "Number 1" were randomized and as the hallucinations worsen, audio recorded in the room in that moment is recorded, distorted, and placed in a different location. In "Number 2," players could complete tasks in each room in the order they chose and the appearance of symptoms and when they appeared were randomized. "Number 3" was an infinite loop that uses a head-mounted display that allowed the user to decide where to go and where to look.

// Gallery

// Technology & Mediums Used

Derivative TouchDesigner


Sound Effects

Zoom H3-VR



Unity 3D


Android Studio


Samsung Gear VR Headset

// Exhibited

Ohio OHIO's
Navigating Turbulence

// In the News

Ohio University Compass
Open OHIO interactive art and science installation continues dialogues
by Emily Baxstrom
Feb. 13, 2019

// Related Instagram Posts

// Special Thanks

In collaboration with:
Event Organizers:
For support, training, testing, and inspiration:
For opportunities and support: