Secret Garden

Martin Rieser and Andrew Hugill



Secret Garden was first shown at the Phoenix, Leicester, then in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, during December-January 2013/14, where it was viewed by 36,509 people. The research is described in Hugill, A. & Rieser, M. (2013) 'Secret Garden', Digital Creativity 24/3: pp. 249-252 and in a paper given at ISEA2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Secret Garden is an interactive iPad Opera/Ballet, recreating a contemporary version of the Eden myth in an urban environment. The work was conceived and developed by Martin Rieser and Andrew Hugill, from original poems by Rieser set to music by Hugill. The interactive installation was a collaboration between Rieser, Hugill, Scott (PhD student) and a company of dancers (Barnes and Hansford), animators (Tillingate and Shaw), programmers (Tatham) and technicians (Howell).

The installation comprises eleven iPads mounted in a circle, acting as virtual viewports into the 'secret garden' (notionally Eden). Changing real-time 3D panoramic landscapes are combined with motion-captured avatars. The viewer’s interaction with the screens triggers songs and dance. The viewports may be seen in any order, and users experience 3D perspective with parallax vision-shift through a manipulation of the native face-tracking features of the iPad which software detects head movements and adjusts the scene’s field of view in real-time.

The music is tied to each scene and builds its layering, intensity and spatiality as more audience members interact with the work. The composition is adaptive to allow for up to 22-part polyphony at any given moment. A granular soundscape provides general ambience. Vocal settings include treated percussion distributed through headphones using Max/MSP and Abelton Live. A communication routine encoded touch events on the devices as a UDP/Open Sound Control signal and delivered them to a central management system.


Documentary about Secret Garden (.flv file here)

Blog entry about Secret Garden

Paper Hugill, A. & Rieser, M. (2013) 'Secret Garden', Digital Creativity 24/3: pp. 249-252.

Demo movies of musical interactions (NB these lack spatialisation detail): Demo 1 | Demo 2 | Demo 3


Compassion score | audio | video

The Crown score | audio | video

Endurance score | audio | video

Foundation score | audio | video

Glory score | audio | video

The Infinite score | audio | video

Judgment score | audio | video

Kingdom score | audio | video

Majesty score | audio | video

Understanding score | audio | video

Wisdom score | audio | video


audio (NB - this had to be converted to mp3 because the wav file was too big for the server)