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Reader: Lab3D and Web3D Art

Reader: Lab3D and Web3D Art

17 May – 22 June 2003

Web3D Art
empyre Discussion List
June 2003
Table of Contents


Introduction by Kathy Rae Huffman……………………………………………..…..1

Symposium at Cornerhouse …………………………………………………….….2

Anthony Rowe
John Klima
Tamiko Thiel
Michael Pinsky
Feng Mengbo

empyre Discussion

Introduction by Melinda Rackham…. …………………………………………….12

3D Curating (in the gallery)………………………………………………………….13

3D Art – user experience…………………………………………………………….16

3D Art - Publishing……………………………………………………………….....19

3D Art – Gender……………………………………………………………………...21

Artists introduce their work……………………………………………………….....21

Cultural Perspectives in 3D……………………………………………………...….27

3D Games and 3D Art……………………………………………………………….33

The Art and Aura of 3D……………………………………………………………...38

Metaphysics and Technicalities…………………………………………………….45


empyre List of contributors…………….………………………………………...….56

Lab3D List of works……..…………………………………………………………...56

Web3D Art List of artists…..…………………………………………………...……57

Adam Nash article……………………………………………………...58
Lab3D, an exhibition and series of events and workshops at Cornerhouse, Manchester,
was the effort of a team of outstanding artists, technicians, and contemporary art
specialists. The realisation of the project was only possible because of the collaboration
and interest of many committed partners, who were generous with resources, ideas and
time. From the outset, Lab3D and its programme was ambitious for Cornerhouse, a
contemporary arts centre. Through the continued support and encouragement of Dave
Moutrey, Cornerhouse Director, resources were found and partnerships created to bring
it to life. Funds from the North West Arts Board new media research initiative; Media
Training Northwest’s ‘The Game Plan’; Visiting Arts, The British Council; the Japan
Foundation, and the Arts Council of England were essential. The exhibition received
collaborative support from the Media Centre Huddersfield, for the building up of a
dedicated game server for Feng Mengbo’s interactive work Q4U; and from the Digital
Development Agency, Manchester City Council, who made an enormous contribution of
equipment to the show, facilitating the installations. The large number of artists from the
region and from abroad who participated in the education programme, and the youth
workshop series, helped to create the spirit of collaboration that made this an
outstanding example of joined up programming.

Web3D Art is co-ordinated with Professor Karel Dudesek, Ravensbourne College of

Design and Communication, since 1998. He has committed time, energy and
enthusiasm over the years to create a unique collaboration that has become legendary
in the 3D community. The development of the extended on-line audience for the show at
Cornerhouse was made possible through the simultaneous exhibition of the on-line
exhibition in a number of venues, including: Folly Gallery, Lancaster; The Digital Studio
at ICA, London; Watershed, Bristol; Media Lounge at the Media Centre, Huddersfield;
Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, Kent; the Experimental Art
Foundation, Adelaide, Australia; and Centre of Contemporary Art, Skopje, Macedonia.

The research funds from North West Arts Board allowed the symposium to take place,
and the documentation of the on-line discussion over the empyre mailing list
(coincidentally founded and operated by Melinda Rackham, who is an artist in the
exhibition and a regular Web3D Art participant). This reader is the result. It also
includes an edited version of the symposium presentations, held on May 17 in Cinema 3
at Cornerhouse. The entire day’s presentations were transcribed by Adam Margerison,
an intern at Cornerhouse from Brisbane, Australia. The transcripts were then edited by
Taylor Nuttall (Director, Folly Gallery).

The empyre discussion was edited by Melinda Rackham (she was unfortunately not in
Manchester for the exhibition or symposium). A full transcript of the discussion is
archived. Every effort has been made to keep the quality and style of the comments
made by the participants, but it was necessary to create a readable record of the
discussion for those who are not familiar with the topic, or discussion list protocol. For a
full archive of the reader, it can be found at

The staff of the Visual Arts Team at Cornerhouse, and the specialists who supported our
efforts to bring the first on-line exhibition (using wireless technology) are all to be
congratulated for their fine contribution to a very new ‘new media’ genre. The level of
trust and competence were exceptional, and deserve a special medal for achievement.

Kathy Rae Huffman, Director of Visual Art, Cornerhouse.

LAB3D SYMPOSIUM other people), where he introduced --
for the first time -- Virtual Reality and
17 May 2003 his research concepts. It wasn’t
widely known in the computer world,
Kathy Rae Huffman: so not at all in the art world. It was just
a start for considering this new, virtual
Welcome to Cornerhouse. This is a space as creative 3D connected
special occasion, to present Lab3D, space. It was about acknowledging
one of the first major on-line gallery that a very new universe existed within
exhibitions in the region, and the first the network, not a corporeal space in
to explore 3D space, and to have the gravity, but a totally free space where
artists in the exhibition here to anyone could imagine, create and fill it
participate in a discussion. 3D is a with new kinds of objects and
unique ‘new media’ genre, and activities. A space where one could
because it demands compatible be anything or anyone they wanted to
hardware and software, we present it be.
in a controlled gallery space, to offer
the conditions for optimum interaction, The German media group Van Gogh
bandwidth, and public programmes TV, started to work in the late 1980s,
that open up a discourse on ‘new and in 1992 were invited to documenta
media.’ IX with their live/remote television
show from the international exhibition:
As a general introduction, and as the ‘Piazza Virtuale’. This project
curator for the exhibition, I can say that demonstrated some of the most recent
I became interested in digital process remote connections, using ISDN and
and the art made with the computer in commercial picturephones, with
the early 1980s. I organised one of connections to Belgrade, Russia, Italy,
the first exhibitions, ‘The Artist and the France, Germany, Latvia, Czech
Computer’ at the Long Beach Museum Republic, Slovenia, Austria and
of Art in 1983. It was interdisciplinary, beyond. I assisted the project as the
and included several artists practising Piazzetta Co-ordinator, and became
in California who had been in or at the immersed in international media
1968 ‘Cybernetic Serendipity: The activities in east and west Europe.
Computer and the Arts’ exhibition, at
the Institute of Contemporary Art, In 1998, Karel Dudesek and I, working
London, curated by Jasia Reichardt. I together as a Van Gogh TV (VGTV)
didn’t feel that art work with computers project, organised the first on-line
was ‘new media’, rather just another competition for artists working in 3D, to
product of investigation by artists who basically find out who and what was
were working with various media tools. there. We had seen a few works, and
had attended the Web3D Sympoisum
Although 3D on-line is still relatively in California, in 1997, which was
new in the general on-line community, extremely stimulating. We suspected
it has a very important history. 3D on- that a vast community of people were
line started with Virtual Reality, at the working in isolation or in institutional
end of the 80’s. I was curator at the pockets in their own countries, so we
ICA Boston then, and was aware of made an international call for works.
much of the research going on over at The resulting program was just
MIT and in the Media Art Lab. When amazing. The huge number of artists,
the SIGGRAPH conference was held scientists, and designers who
in Boston, I attended a presentation by responded, more than 100 from 25
Jaron Lanier (along with about 5000 countries, were doing really interesting

development work in sound, the temporal backbone of music, a
connected universes, avatar piece can become 'navigable', or
development, scientific representation, 'explorable' - i.e. the listener is given a
narrative and games. degree of control over how they hear it
and what they hear.
Web3D Art was first shown as the
official art show in Paderborn, It’s about composition in space,
Germany, and was called VRML Art. starting with taking the temporal
Tony Parisi and Mark Pesce, the co- component of composition and
inventors of VRML (virtual reality 'spacialising' it, rather than having a
mark-up language) were generous and time component you have a space
supportive, and the event brought component. Rather than hitting play
together a number of artists, and for and going straight through an audio
the first time we could see the dynamic track, you can explore it in infinite
of this community of users. different ways. We started to look at
ways of expanding on that, looking at it
The selection of on-line work was all from an interactive standpoint, and
from artists who reacted to the call for creating navigable sound
projects. This is how I met John Klima compositions.
and Patrick Keller (present at the
symposium) whose work is in the Previous incarnations of the project
current Web3D Art selection. Later have taken the form of single
editions of the competition included compositions, accessible on-line or as
works by Tamiko Thiel and also an installation. With altzero5, we have
squidsoup. Web3D Art was the way made a tool that enables people to
we all learned the extent of the create and publish their own navigable
landscape of 3D on-line. Since 1998, music compositions - using their own
the independent efforts to maintain the sounds, and with control over
competition has been recognised by playback and various spatial
the Web3D Symposium, where it has parameters (location, range, visual
been the official art show. So many of appearance and so on).
the artists proposed installation works,
and several had been shown in The installation at the Cornerhouse
festivals, or technical conferences like (made with electronic musicians
SIGGRAPH. To bring the installation Icarus) consists of a sequence of ten
work together with the on-line soundscapes, created during the first
selection was the goal of Lab3D. two days of the Lab3D exhibition. A
Web3D Art is archived at: series of sound making objects were
placed in the gallery, and connected to a mixing desk using contact
microphones. The audience were
Anthony Rowe: invited to interact with the objects, and
the resulting sounds were then
squidsoup started in 1997, it was a sampled, as the raw material for
result of a couple of us doing an MA in Icarus' navigable music compositions.
interactive design, looking at what was They made over 50 soundscapes in
out there at the time and thinking that that time, each a progression from the
there really wasn’t much in terms of last. It starts off with just one sound
commercial work that was pushing the and builds up and up over the day,
boundaries. and by the end there will have been
sounds that have come and gone. All
Altzero is an ongoing project that aims of the sounds will have had as their
to explore the possibilities of musical starting point someone coming into the
composition in virtual space. Using gallery, knocking on one of these
space as an alternative (or addition) to instruments, or hitting them or playing

with them. The end result is both a that can play in surround sound or
musical composition and a unique stereoscopic vision and so on.
record of that event.
Altzero 5, rather than having the
visuals complement the audio they John Klima:
actually add to the overall meaning of
it and help you understand what you’re I've been coding 3D since around
listening to. You could have a sound 1978. I went to art school, studied
that you’re listening to that may be photo mostly, but did sculptural work
made up of 50 different sounds or just too. I switched to computers as my
a single sound that’s being processed. primary medium around 1990, when
It acts as a sort of road map, as you’re the first CAD programs and primitive
steering through this space you can ray-tracers surfaced. As a
see each sound within the space, you photographer, I was primarily
can go up to it, deconstruct it and concerned with still life and
really understand what’s going on constructed realities, so the computer
there. offered solutions to nagging real world
problems. I no longer needed to
Altzero uses a spherical space, it is suspend things with wires, no longer
truly 3D, you’ve got completely free had to frantically search for the right
movement, the advantage of having a object for my scene, I could just "make
spherical space is that where it" from scratch. The machine added
movement tends to orbit like a an additional element that still
planetary system is that it’s like an photography and even film or video
infinite space, there’s no edges on it, could never achieve: real-time
you don’t get lost. We’re not focusing animation and interaction.
on navigation for its own sake but
rather navigation to explore the piece I have participated in Web3D Art since
of music. For each sound you can set its inception, first submitting work
the range of the sound, its audible executed in WorldUp, a proprietary
range, the distance from the centre. high performance 3D IDE. In the last
Because it’s orbital type motion, it few years for web work I have
makes more sense to use polar type switched to Java, implementing with
co-ordinates, you’ve got latitude, the anfy3D API and the idx3D API.
longitude and distance from the centre
as the 3 dimensions. There’s also a I'm nonetheless fond of the real world,
time line, or a loop, along the bottom so I often combine the virtual and the
so you can fade things in and fade real with physical installation. I create
things out; you can determine how it parallel physical and virtual worlds,
loops; and you can determine the each echoing elements of the other.
visual style of the thing.
In this show Earth is done with a high-
I mentioned the sound is visually end 3D graphics renderer and in the
represented and it is represented by a Web3D show Context Breeder is done
variety of different mechanisms, the with a low end renderer, Java.
main one is really a sort of pulsating
blob, which pulsates with the First here are some installations that
amplitude of the sound. I’ve done. Fish is a game, you play it
on an arcade cabinet, it costs 25c to
The data consists of a text file and play. An arcade cabinet is connected
sound files, the idea is it’s almost a to an elaborate fish tank. A 36in
publishing format in a way, we can diameter fish bowl, and four 24in
create a whole bunch of other players bowls on the outside, each of these
has a goldfish in it, a feeder fish, called

comets. The Chinese have been this piece and everyday I went to the
practising genetic art for thousands of Department of Defence website. From
years, as represented by these highly their press briefings I culled the
aestheticised goldfish. In the game information of troop movements. I
you select your avatar, one of those wanted to find out where are the
goldfish, you’re playing a fish in the troops, where are the planes, what
game. You can choose to play the kind of munitions are going where?
game in passive or aggressive mode. Then I’d use them to map everyday,
The whole world in the game world the progression of the war. It also cost
mirrors the physical installation, there 25c to play – in the gallery installation I
are tubes that you swim through and a put it in this little helicopter kiddie ride,
big chamber. As you enter the big you can grab the joystick and navigate
chamber there’s a castle. The object of through the scene. What’s important is
the game is to get to the other side, an it’s a game you can’t play; it’s being
Oscar fish comes up and in passive played for us. Most video games
mode they just say hello. you’re in control of the action, you’re
doing the bombing, you’re doing the
Eventually we make through to the shooting, but in this game all you can
other side and go into the dispenser do is watch and the munitions are
and an arm drops and both fish slosh moving for you.
into the outer bowl! Depending on
which avatar you choose to play you I used the colour blue to represent the
end up in the bowl with that avatar, the UN forces and green to represent the
little feeder fish ends up in that bowl Taliban bases. What’s interesting to
with the avatar you chose to play. The note here is that the actual telemetry
live fish is then deposited from the from every one of these flights exists.
upper tank into the central bowl. In that The absolute co-ordinates for every
bowl are three live Oscars, and Oscars one of these bombing runs actually
are carnivorous fish. Personally, I don’t exists, and that data isn’t made
have any ethical dilemmas with this. available though if it was it would be
There are these video games with lots very easy to represent it in an
of violence and there’s never any environment like this. I have no doubt
consequence. I wanted to put an that the military has visualisation tools
actual life on the line, and when you like this and of course far more
play you have the choice to play in sophisticated. The title The Great
aggressive or passive mode, so you Game comes from Kipling. During the
can choose to always save the fish. I Victorian era Queen Victoria was
found that most people did actually engaged in a similar conflict in
play in passive mode. Afghanistan with her cousin the Tsar
of Russia, and it was generally
I made the game difficult on purpose. referred to in the British press as The
It’s an interesting issue in new media Great Game and that phrase was
art how do you address the hardcore attributed to Kipling.
gamer and the blue haired old lady at
the same time? They have very IDX Campaign, is the Iraqi Expansion
different skill levels when it comes to Pack and Campaign Maker Version 1,
interaction. To solve that problem I TGG Iraqi Expansion Pack. I wanted
made the aggressive mode very to create a patching tool or skinning
difficult and the passive mode very tool where you can put your own
easy. geometry in, your own imagery into the
game. I wanted to do something like
The Great Game exists as a physical that again with my basic military
installation as well as a web work. campaign mechanism. I couldn’t use
During the bombing of Afghanistan, blue cause that’s the UN colour so I
actually before the bombing, I began decided to use black to represent the

American munitions. Also so as to size of the disk is determined by the
make no misunderstanding about my strength of each country’s currency
sentiments about this conflict. It’s against the dollar. If the currency value
basically the same as the original against the dollar is very low for that
Great Game. I wanted to make a country then the disk is very small and
patching tool that was easy to use, it’s it’s hard to hit. If the currency strength
just a bitmap. I have a munitions is strong the disk is big and so it’s
palette and a map of Iraq, and I just easy to hit. The map on the floor ends
take colour and actually paint where up being this crazy graph of currency
you want your munitions to appear on fluctuations. There’s a caveat to this
the final map, you make a new image little game in that if you buy down to
for every day. the $500 level you create a hole in the
map that the robot can’t climb out of.
For all these Java versions I also have So, if a robot falls into a $500 drawing
high-end graphics versions as well. It’s and you’ve reserved it, you get the
nice to use Java because there’s no robot and the drawing for $500! The
plug-in for the 3D graphics component, game was over when all the robots
no download, so even though it’s a bit were sold.
slow and clunky and not really feature
rich, it is a good technology to use. It’s EARTH is a limited edition presented
so accessible to most computers. on eight multimedia objects. Stand-
That’s a battle that I constantly have, alone EARTH includes a 15" LCD
as an artist I don’t want to have to be monitor, a hand-crafted computer, and
forced to use non-toxic kiddie paints, I a trackball input device. Though
want to use oil paints, I want to be able making extensive use of the Internet,
to use the best materials that I EARTH is not available as a free
possibly can. But with computers, with download, for both technical and
the Internet quite often you’re required philosophical reasons.
to achieve a lowest common
denominator which is quite frustrating The EARTH software accurately
to me. So the solution for me is often positions real-time data culled from the
to make two versions of everything, Internet on a three-dimensional model
the low res. accessible version and the of the Earth. Viewers are able to travel
high res. really beautiful version. from layer to layer by zooming in and
retrieving imagery and data for specific
Go is sort of the precursor to Earth. Go regions. From the outer to the inner
consists of a physical installation, an layer, viewers encounter:
8ft weather balloon and these little
robots that run around on a map of the ÿ A detailed 3D outline of the
earth, which is on the floor. The robots earth's coasts, based on US
have very simple behaviour, they’re Geological Survey data.
attracted to light. Lights are turned on ÿ A spherical mapping of GOES-
and off by an interface that you use, 10 weather satellite imagery.
you manipulate satellites and turn on ÿ LANDSAT-7 satellite imagery
and off disks. The floor map is made of the earth's surface.
up of individual drawing pads ten ÿ Topographical maps created
sheets deep, and each sheet is from digital elevation data
labelled 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, US provided by the
currency denominations. All the military mapping agency.
drawings are for sale, and once a ÿ A local view of the earth's
drawing is sold it is removed from the terrain (the terrain geometry
pad. The interface that is being and textures
projected onto the globe is an image of are generated dynamically
the earth, with disks. These disks are from raw data files available
located on various countries, and the from a US

military Web site). Here, terrain are heavily groomed to make
viewers can "fly" through a five- them look smooth, whereas the data
degree by has actually got many holes and many
five-degree patch of the earth's inaccuracies, many faults…
ÿ The current local weather Context Breeder creates an
conditions on the terrain patch alternative, genetics based interface
- a visual for the Rhizome Artbase. Users create
interpretation of weather from genes out of 4 selected art objects and
more than 6000 weather then 'breed' their genes with others
reporting stations world-wide. contained in the 'gene pool' to create
Visibility is translated into offspring - new combinations of
density of fog, while artworks. The fitness of a gene is
temperature influences the determined by the similarities between
colour of the fog (blue=cold; the artworks it contains.
Lets consider what this commission is
The entire dataset exposed is cached by definition - an alternate interface
on the hard-drive, and if the system into the Rhizome Artbase. This means
has a live Internet connection, the that the end result should have a
cached data is supplemented by the function; it should actually be useful in
current on-line information. some way. To bring Art back into the
definition means that the function need
KRH: So how did you move from Go not be "useful" in only a practical
directly into this piece? sense. It does not need to improve
upon an existing methodology for
JK: When I was a little kid I wanted to Artbase access, because as Art, it is
be an astronaut when I grew up. I not a tool. Art needs only to supply the
wanted to be able to reproduce that unusual methodology.
experience of seeing the earth in real
time from outer space. I’ve taken real- My goal, in a functional sense, was to
time data from a number of sources on create an organic mechanism that
the net that have global coverage, and assembled a collection of works that
then represented it through a very relate to each other. Somehow, they
highly aestheticised, very stylised were to represent examples of key
representation scheme. It also relates concepts in without the
to Neil Stevenson’s novel Snow Crash, assemblage being the dogmatic
where he describes a piece of choice of a single individual, or the
software called Earth, which is this "oppression of public opinion" in a vote
really amazing piece of software system. We often see in movies such
where you could see everything about as "Minority Report," fabulous
the earth in real-time at your fingertips. interfaces seamlessly providing
There are a lot of people working on precisely the information the user
this same basic idea, the idea of a needs. This seems in stark contrast to
global visualisation or earth viewer, but the reality of the computer interfaces
they’re all restricted by having to be we actually have. The reason for this
accurate. They have to have a level of is twofold - we don't have equipment
verisimilitude that an artist doesn’t actually capable of presenting data in
have to have. My terrains are crazy these fabulous ways, and we don't
coloured and heavily exaggerated, and have the mental capacity to utilise
rather than trying to resolve the such an interface if it did exist. My goal
imprecision of any mapping system I as far as presenting the data was to do
actually let the seams show. Any data so in an a-typical way, in a way that
source that you see on CNN with did not suggest any of the interface
these sort of zoom-ins over the Iraqi

metaphors we are accustomed to, and internment of an entire ethnic group on
perhaps debilitated by. the grounds of military necessity still
stands. During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 – 1980 and with every
subsequent fear of middle-eastern terrorism there are verbal, physical
er/ and legal attacks on Iranian Americans
and calls to intern them “like we
Tamiko Thiel: interned the Japanese.”

With VR we have the capability to In 1995, Zara and I were working at a

visualise metaphors in a 21st century company called Worlds Inc., one of the
form of Surrealism that expands the first companies to make a PC based,
dreamscape from an image into an on-line, multi-user, virtual reality
environment. We can build technology. We talked for a long time
extraordinarily rich, sensitive about how we could use this as an
environments wherein the structure of artistic medium to really create an
the virtual space itself and of the interactive and dramatically complex
user's interactions with that space, narrative. In 1995 there was a
reate an intimate dramatic tension bombing attack in Oklahoma city that
between the user and the was the worst attack on American soil,
virtual environment. until our last 9/11 attack. The day after
that attack, the papers were all full of
Beyond Manzanar is a metaphorical ‘Islamic terrorists attack in Oklahoma
landscape that explores media city’.
scapegoating of ethnic populations in
times of crisis and invokes the human Zara had to go off on a pre-scheduled
spirit that creates beauty under meditation. She knew that the site of
adverse conditions. The work is a Manzanar was nearby, and went to
collaboration between myself a visit it after the retreat was over. She
Japanese American media artist, and told me it was very strange because it
Zara Houshmand, an Iranian American looks so much like the landscape of
poet and theatre director. Iran. The land is dominated by high
snow covered mountains, the area is a
The historic experiences of Japanese high-desert plateau. Water trickles
Americans in World War II and the down from the mountains and at the
more contemporary experiences of bottom you have these oases where
Iranian Americans form the basis for a you can build villages. She said that it
surreal and poetic work contrasting went beyond the pure construction of
immigrant attempts to achieve the the landscape, it was very strange
American Dream with mass media walking around the site – there were
demonization of entire groups as the ten thousand people interned here.
“face of the enemy.” The grid of roads done in army camp
style is still there in the middle of the
Manzanar Internment Camp in Eastern desert. Rather than looking like a
California is used to focus the stories military camp, the landscape reminded
of these two diverse groups into a her so much of Iran and this grid
single dialogue. Manzanar was the reminded her of the paradise gardens
first of over 10 internment camps that they build in Iran, almost on this
erected to incarcerate Japanese type of grid structure, which
American families during WW2 under symbolises the cosmic perfection of
a false charge of military necessity. In paradise. As she talked about gardens
the 1980s the American courts in the desert, gardens in the camp, I
declared this internment to have been remembered stories I’d heard as a
“not justified,” but the principle of mass child from some of my Japanese

relatives that the Japanese had indeed We didn’t want to have avatars,
built gardens in the internment camps. cartoon characters running around the
site. There were lots of photographs,
I found this photograph by Ansel and if you look into the windows of the
Adams of the largest of the paradise barracks you can see real
gardens in Manzanar, and this book photographs that were taken in
called “Farewell to Manzanar” written Manzanar that show the real people,
by a woman who’d been in the camp who really lived there and under what
as an eight year old. She talked about sort of conditions they lived there. We
sitting in this very garden and how she try to lead you through the piece by
would choose her viewpoint very opening doors at specific times and
carefully so that she couldn’t see any then closing them behind you. That
guard towers, any barracks, and she forces you to go on and try to find a
would try to stay still as long as she way out and through. It also tries to
could. As long as she didn’t move she replicate some of the emotional
could preserve the illusion that she experience that the internees would
was in paradise and that she was have had as the doors closed and
there of her own free will. That pushed them forward into an uncertain
moment -- of using movement and future.
shifting of the built environment (of the
scene within the same actual space) You go into the barracks and they are
–says you’re always in Manzanar but not packed full like you see in the
you’re shifting between paradise windows, they’re empty but full of
gardens and the camp. This was to ghosts, the ghosts murmur at you,
me a very powerful image of what we you’re trapped, you have to find
could do in interactive virtual reality another way out. We’ve given you a
3D, that we couldn’t do in other media. little hope, there’s this strange little
Japanese room at the end of the room
I didn’t want to get trapped into making with views of the garden. When you
a documentary I wanted to be able to enter that room, all of a sudden you
really play with your emotions. It’s the are in paradise. But, it turns out you’re
emotional veracity of the experience still in Manzanar; look this is the same
that’s important. I found out that using scenery. I’ve used principles of
surrealistic devices, visualisations of Japanese garden design and moved
metaphors are a really powerful the viewpoint 20 degrees so you can
device. I wanted the feeling that the air see out the pass, using what’s called
was full of hate, that you’re surrounded literally ‘captured scenery’. The
by a feeling of hate. garden design had a foreground,
middle ground and also incorporated
We had floating in the sky, fading in the background, the actual scenery
and out, all sorts of headlines; funny you’re ‘in’, so you get this view of
little signs that people made during absolute expansiveness.
WW2. All were archival materials to
give you a feeling of what it felt like to We’ve also put lots of music in the
be in this camp and know the sort of piece, to give you a cultural context.
media hysteria that had brought you Are you in an American context with
there. We also wanted to give a voice American pop music? Are you in a
to the people, the experience of being Japanese context with Japanese
in the camp, in the fence we’ve put music?
poems in Farsi and Japanese with
translations in English, about exile, There’s a whole series of barracks that
longing, imprisonment, not being able we call ‘the American dream’, where
to cross the fence. you start out in a Japanese context;
people are sitting here eating a
Japanese style banquet, and then you

wade through paperwork in the idea how long it’ll take to get
immigration corridor, in order to somewhere. I set out the task of
emerge in America. This whole time mapping London in time by all the
you can see through the walls, and different modes of transport; I picked
you realise that although you’re trying out five; walking, taking the train, bus,
to be the good American, you’re sitting driving and cycling. The tube map
here in an American internment camp includes not only the time on the train
for the crime of being Japanese. but also the time it takes to get down
so the funny elongated bits, the
Searching for a way out you come into spidery bits are the time it takes to get
this Iranian crisis room, ‘the Iranian down on the escalators. After I
hostage crisis’, as it’s called in the mapped this out in time, I realised that
states, 1979-80. When the Islamic you actually spend about ten percent
revolution deposed the Shah, Islamic of your time on the tube and ninety
students held Americans hostage in percent of your time walking
the embassy in Tehran, and the underground. I had this fantasy that
headlines, the sort of invective the tube goes nowhere and you walk
reminded the Japanese-Americans most of the way underground. You get
incredibly of the sorts of invective on this thing, it shakes about, then you
directed against them during WW2. get off and carry on walking! In New
When you try to get out of the Iranian- York you just need to look down
American dream room, you have through the road and you can see the
photographs of your happy friends and tubes are there, but in London they’re
relatives who are becoming American really deep so they can get away with
and fitting in. But, if you go too close this!
to the images you find out the walls
are transparent, you’re hovering over In Transit started off as a two
the internment camp and the sky is dimensional project. Then I realised
filled with images of the terrorists that there was a problem I was struggling
people think you really are. with. In most of the maps, when you
have two fast journeys and one slow
You can flee into a garden. As our journey in the middle, you’ve got all
protest against the technology --and to this excess time to get rid of. It’s like a
show that we’re trying to use the bit of rope and I thought that I could
technology for a different sort of zigzag the rope in between. All the
message -- we have included a war concentrated bits are very slow routes
scene. You start the video war by and that’s how I got rid of the excess
your own actions, but at that point we time. That’s what really got me
take away your control. You have no thinking about 3D maps. Even though
control of your movements, you have aesthetically I enjoy the 2D challenge
to wait for the war to be over and only of flattening these maps out.
after the war is over will you be able to
take direct action in your own life. I made video of all the routes and used
that data to form the visual maps, there’s five monitors all with the
competing modes of transport. You
Michael Pinsky: start off at Marble Arch and you don’t
know who’s going to win. It’s already
I thought it would be interesting to getting into a kind of gaming
have a set a map of maps that weren’t framework even though it wasn’t
geographically based that you had to interactive at this point. Graphics are
piece through, that weren’t the tube put over the top of the videos and
map, which is a wonderful graphic and sped up by ten times. It’s quite a
incredible bit of advertising. Like any frenzied nervous experience, which I
advertising it’s very false, you have no think moving around London is.

television program and cinema and
The idea is it’s a slow-burn game, that’s not interactive, but then with
every interactive environment needs a video games it’s the first time we found
reward system, otherwise your we can communicate with machines.
experience is like a bus ride, you just I started with single images and then I
go round in circles and nothing had 3 by 3, and 9 by 9, then 42. There
changes. The longer you spend with was never enough with just the still
this piece of work the more intricate images. What I wanted to do was
the 3D model becomes and so you sequences and animation. Finally
become the sculptor. It becomes more when I had enough equipment and
beautiful the longer you stay with it technology, it was very natural for me
and resets to zero if you walk away for to do something interactive.
a minute so you have to persevere.
One side of the screen is quite Taking Mount Doom by Strategy, I first
accurate and beautiful and the other is showed in England at the ICA and in
quite manic and rough and they really Liverpool. It’s on multiple screens and
contrast each other, like a prototype in the middle there is a self-running
tool that’s also an art piece and it plays movie that’s about 2 minutes long, and
between the two things. This was on the other two are a kind of
worked up at the V2 Lab For Unstable interactive movie player. I took 42
Media. movie clips from original Chinese
opera, the same one I used for my earlier paintings called Taking Tiger
Mountain by Strategy. You can select
Feng Mengbo: from the list the various characters and
clips. One is a game, an interface I
I work as a game artist now but from built myself in the style of a very old
’91, before I had my first computer, my computer or machine, inside is the
work was mainly oil painting or acrylic basic game of Doom with all the
on canvas. weapons and sounds and things, but I
changed the background to have a
In ’92 I made this painting Game Over sequence of animation from the movie.
based on the Nintendo screen, the
classic 8-bit machine. I took this game In ’99 I wanted to find something new
and replaced the character with the and I found the latest public demo
hero of the Chinese army, based on version of Quake. This work is kind of
the real character from the Chinese like a movie. I was playing the game
opera which was then transferred to many hours a day, playing on the
film. Later, at a show I did in Hong Internet with people around the world.
Kong, I did 42 paintings based on the For this movie these are not really
operas in the same format, using the characters in a game but these are
hero of the Chinese army fighting the real people doing really strange
enemies, usually the US army or things. At that time I was doing a lot of
something else. He uses coca cola documentary video, so with blue
cans as weapons! screens and other technology I put
myself inside the game. There is a
In ’93 I got my first Macintosh, What I kind of interview between me and a
got was a very limited system, you robot, talking together about
could not do anything really something very strange.
interactive, all I could do was things
like slide shows. Frame by frame, I Audience I find it very interesting
would do 20-30 layers in the frames you’re still painting. I wonder about the
and make just like animation. Almost process of moving from painting to
everything I do is to do with video doing slide shows, where you do
game, before that all we have is paintings from digital media, then

working in purely digital media or dimensional Internet space may now,
predominantly with coding. How does half a generation later, seem naive.
that feed back into the process of how When the 3D web standard VRML has
you paint? Has your approach to the been pronounced dead more times
painting changed as a result of this than painting; when there is no
later work? ubiquitous plugg-in or browser to view
work; when making work in this arena
FM Oh yes, when I was seriously is always problematic in terms of
working as a painter in ’91 I was still stability and delivery; why do artists
doing something like video games. My continue to be drawn to it ? What
ideas were not stopped by the still space still exists for independent artist
image, what I wanted to do was projects when most on-line 3D Internet
something more but was limited by the content has been developed under the
technology. What I wanted to do was commercial auspices of the massively
make something with the Sega or multi-user games like EverQuest and
Nintendo companies. Maybe we could Lineage?
work together and do some sort of
video game. Now with something like In June 2003 empyre on-line forum
Q4U I really can do what I want. But I hosted an in-depth discussion on the
come back to painting because still world of the dimensionalised Internet
images are really so different to and the landscape of computer games
moving media. You can never stop at with guest artists and curators from
the one frame, the time-line, the loop Lab3D and Web3D art 2003.
is more important, but the still image
can force you to stay in one moment The incredibly lively forum discussed
and this can be really powerful. many 3D issues including the nature
and renderings of 3D space, 3D games relation to 3D art; the creation
of narratives within virtual
environments; the cultural specificity of
empyre DISCUSSION LIST 3D art; and the aura of the 3D art
object. We explored virtual
Melinda Rackham environments as reactive organisms or
empyre on-line forum artificial life, moving into the aesthetics
of single and multi-user worlds and the
"I know that I have become a traveller specific, though not insurmountable
in a realm which will be ultimately issues of showing and funding 3D
bounded only by human imagination, a interactive networked artworks in a
world without any of the usual limits of gallery and museum system set up to
geography, growth, carrying capacity, show less physically interactive art
density or ownership. In this magic forms.
theatre, there's no gravity, no Second
Law of Thermodynamics, indeed, no Participating Lab3D installation artists
laws at all beyond those imposed by include John Klima (USA), Melinda
computer processing speed... and Rackham (Australia), Anthony Rowe of
given the accelerating capacity of that squidsoup (UK), and Tamiko Thiel
constraint, this universe will probably (Germany/USA). Artists from Web3D
expand faster than the one I'm used Art2003 include Simon Biggs
to. Welcome to Virtual Reality. " (UK), Steve Guynup (USA), Roya
(John Perry Barlow, Being in Jacoby (Germany/USA), Patrick Keller
Nothingness, 1990) (Switzerland), Adam Nash
(Australia), Ales Vaupotic & Narvika
The optimism generated in the closing Bovcon (Slovinia), Ayoub Sarouphim
moments of last millennium for (Lebanon/USA), Edward Tang &
computer constructed three

Przemyslaw Moskal (USA), and resources). As in all exhibitions, a
Grégoire Zabé (France). focus and limit was necessary to
observe. Works selected include
Curators from several partner
institutions who are simultaneously • a live data stream navigation by
showing the web3D section of Lab3D John Klima;
including Kathy Rae Huffman at • literary/documentary/socially
Cornerhouse; Taylor Nuttall from Folly, concerned historic work by Tamiko
Lancaster; and Melentie Pandilovski of Thiel/Zarah Houshmand);
the Experimental Art Foundation, • identity, intervention & gaming by
Adelaide also join the discussion along Feng Mengbo;
with many members of the –empyre- • classic 3D investigation of virtual
on-line community. An overview of space, multi-user and avatars by
these vibrant debates is presented in Melinda Rackham;
the following sections. The full archive • a real/virtual software navigation
of the empyre forum is always by Michael Pinsky;
available on-line at: • and the crossover investigation of
sound and visuals in 3D space by squidsoup & Icarus, utilising a
empyre/2003-June/thread.html software tool work that was
commissioned by Cornerhouse.
‡ 3D curation
Web3D Art 2003 is also featured in the
3D Art - in the gallery exhibition, with 25 new projects from
13 countries, including a link to all
Kathy Rae Huffman: previous years to show a context and
complexity to the topic.
Cornerhouse has hosted a number of
media and new media exhibitions over A lot of important collaboration locally
the past years, most widely seen was was essential to the realisation of the
Perry Hoberman's 'System show. In addition to the Media Centre,
Maintenance' in 1998, during the ISEA Huddersfield ‘s collaboration on the
conference. Jenny Markatou's work Q4U by Feng Mengbo, Folly
'Taystee's Room' was shown in 2001, Gallery collaborated on the live, on-
alongside the futuresonic festival. It's line performance work by Adam Nash,
important to keep in mind that in the one night version of his multi-
Cornerhouse is not a media art centre, user version of Memory Plains
has no permanent technical team, and Returning.
has no special focus or mandate for
New Media, or 3D in particular. I can say –regrettably-- that as an
organisation, we failed to raise
Lab3D is my initiative, and it follows a significant exhibition funds to enable
long interest in the connection the show to travel and to create a long
between the real and the virtual that deserved catalogue. Comments from
began in the 1980s. When I was various funding agencies were mainly
working primarily with video and along the lines that they could not see
installation work, the computer came the ‘reason’ to put virtual work in a
up over and over again as a point of physical space, and that the 'art' was
reference. My brief for Lab3D was to not significant.
give a wide view of artworks that are
realised best in the gallery, and that My choice of artists for the exhibition
are representative of artistic directions follows my long interest in 3D and
in the field internationally (as well as virtual worlds, and as a curator my
works that were affordable, doable in definition of the genre. Lab3D
our space and realisable with our is by no means a definitive list, but for

me it represents exceptional
works by artists who have created
significant works, shown widely and htm
respected in their field. The artists all
describe a physical space for their work, e.htm
and this exhibition gives us mutual
reward, to fulfil the requirements for the .htm
work and present it to the public.
This show did have a poster but not a
Roya Jakoby: catalogue. As a curator and director I
struggled between the ideas whether
Maybe big 3D is much more of a thing to have a catalogue, which would have
for real space / gallery / museums been potentially beneficial for different
presentation after all? The situation is groups of people (researchers, art
comparable with other art genres historians, artists, students, etc.) or not
where equipment and tools become to, because of: 1. Simple reasoning
increasingly expensive (read the entire project was something that
exclusive) in order to add 'value' to the was basically intended for the net (in
final piece. I personally don't have a lot fact the project was highlighting the
of trust in exclusivity. attributes of the net), 2. The
conference participants (except a few)
Melinda Rackam: never sent the final versions of their
texts, and 3. There were not enough
3D art made and designed to be seen funds. Finally we chose the no
in the networked environment, takes catalogue option.
on a new context and aura in a gallery
because it commands big space for I always believed that web3D is
video projection. Therefore: floorspace worthwhile to be presented, that it has
= artistic significance and value in the a significant potential, and that
real estate / funding criteria of gallery / perhaps an educating of the public and
museum system. the non-involved artists for these
projects was necessary. The group of
Melentie Pandilovski: artists that are taken into consideration
and are incorporated into the web3D
It is very seldom that web 3D has been 2003, are more or less the same
included in a major museum or gallery people that have been involved since
program. 1999 or earlier. This means that the
pool of artists has not been widened.
I worked on web3D projects by There are certain reasons behind this,
incorporating the work of the team of which have to be tackled.
Van Gogh TV (led by Karel Dudesek)
"Worlds Within", from the start into the Kathy Rae Huffman:
activity of the Skopje Electronic Arts
Fair. Both in 1997 and 1998 SEAfair I believe that everyone showing work
took place in the Museum of in a gallery 'should' be paid, and in
Contemporary Arts. In both cases it regular circumstances Cornerhouse
was a matter of using complex abides by the national rate
platforms. In 1997 there was a established. But, for on-line work
workshop with the artists, and in 1998 when there are dozens of artists
a workshop project with the Museum included in a selection, it becomes
professionals. Then in 1999 I co- difficult. In order to extend our
curated with Kathy Rae Huffman a exhibition fees, we (institutions) need
VRML exhibition and conference in the to raise the money. To do that, the
Museum of the City of Skopje, and a work needs to be known (i.e. shown)
workshop in Ohrid in 1999. to enable funders, other curators, and

critics to experience what the work is; problems of not having technical
they need to understand the social, support or knowledgeable audience.
theoretical and even physical impact of What we need more of is the ability to
the work on-line; and to actually see collaborate more efficiently, to bring
the gallery visitor using (enjoying) the fascinating work to a larger and
work. broader public. They are ready for it to
be a part of the contemporary art
What institutions do offer is discourse, as it is in society, today.
infrastructure to provide the
connectivity, security for equipment Taylor Nuttall:
and computers, and assistance in the
gallery to explain what's going on to Folly has also hit the problem of
the audience. Institutions publicise the raising funds for promoting work that
work, and by their educational the arts funders may not necessarily
programmes, provide a forum for the identify with, or see the value in
exchange of ideas. placing in a gallery space.

At Cornerhouse, we don't have a This is kind of ironic, given that much

permanent technical team, so we language is often used in funding
needed to find these important folks, guidelines about attracting new
bring them in to help install and audiences and challenging
maintain the show, and we learned a conceptions about the nature of art in
lot from them. the gallery space.

Why on-line 3D in the gallery - if it is Most organisations like Folly and the
(after all) designed for being on-line! Cornerhouse find that large parts of
We all know that often, those who are their annual financial spend has little to
not fully computer literate can't access do with artistic programming and I
this work. To create an environment think this is behind funders' attitudes to
for the work to be shown 'properly' - seeing on-line works in the gallery
either on a computer workstation, and space.
/ or projected, and to have activities to
explain the work, is of course among The attraction of on-line work is that it
the goals of the contemporary art carries with it little financial overheads.
gallery. To make a political point, a Whereas a physical gallery space
curatorial statement, or simply to absorbs a good percentage of the
create a programme of events around annual Arts Council pot despite
an idea (or a technology) is another attempts to diversify and bring in
reason - often cited by artists in alternative income streams.
opposition to curatorial choices.
Thus the logic would be for expensive
Special centres dedicated to New gallery spaces to be primarily used to
Media are starting to develop, and are promote work that would otherwise not
important focal points for presenting be seen (on-line works clearly fall
works. But, like the international outside such a definition in that they
Media Art Centres that began in the are ultimately available to a world-wide
80s, the danger is that they will attract audience).
an audience of the initiated, create
ghetto environments for media - and I don't subscribe to this logic, but we
that they won't cross over into general need to appreciate its impact.
broadly based art audiences. It's a
hard call - you have the technical The problem for many galleries is also
resources and a specific audience. Or, that they have a broad schedule, and
you enter a 'normal' contemporary art will ultimately only offer a very diluted
centre or museum, and deal with the experience of New Media. Festivals

and events are one way around this, experience. In the gallery it can be
but to really engage audiences we seamless and unproblematic so that
need to have a consistent makes it ok? Are these the
programming output. expectations of audiences, curators, or
funding bodies?
It is perhaps the job of New Media
centres then to act as a wider agency Do audiences want to experiment a
and build upon partnerships. The great little? Or do they have to be protected
thing about Kathy's approach to from feeling like they may not
Lab3D was to do just that. Involving understand or may "break" something
Folly, Watershed, The Media Centre or from ever feeling uncomfortable. I
and others broadens the curatorial think one of the many functions of art
output and brings additional technical is to challenge what an audience
support into the bargain. already thinks or feels, that is to make
people uncomfortable; as well as
So what can putting work in the gallery entertaining them for few seconds.
• It legitimises the work in an arts Lloyd Sharp’s 3D work
context with reference to other was
works both in the space and over a seamless and unproblematic in its
period of time; presentation as it fitted into the gallery
• It ensures that access to the work parameters of art.
is generally a good experience,
with say supporting information, Lloyd Sharp:
possibly technical support, talks /
presentations / workshops I exhibited digital works at a number of
surrounding the works to give an combined Craft / Design exhibitions.
extended experience. Within the 'craft' exhibition context the
• It broadens the gallery visitors precision of the works and industrial
appreciation of what a work of art side of the production fitted ok.
can be, who otherwise may not
think of looking at on-line projects. People reacted to them and saw them
• Dialogue between viewers somewhat like jewellery and small
experiencing the work extends, ceramic works in the craft context
knowledge /appreciation / level of much like those intricate design works
enjoyment. using the various similar materials of
• It may inspire future development. glass, aluminium and plastics.
• It raises the potential for other
finance / sponsorship to be But, they were also intrigued by the
obtained. transfer from the vague digital space
• And artistically a different frame of to the gallery space.
reference is obtained for the work,
maybe by a change of scale or Many people thought the
user interface etc. accompanying prints of 3D works and
environments / spaces exhibited with
3D Art - user experience them were photographs of real objects
and spaces - just like the sculptural
Melinda Rackam: pieces they could see and touch right
there in front of them.
The issue of legitimacy is interesting.
3D work isn’t legitimate because it What is most interesting about this is
happens in this weird on-line place, it the kind of 'inverse' digital immersion.
is hard to use and you need to actually The objects emanated directly from
download something or play with some the 3D environments I was working
settings so its not a seamless on and were made 'real' at a human

scale. They are as exciting as each institutional bodies to retrench while
other in many different ways. I like that retrofitting and reclaiming any (often
there is a continuum from the virtual to technologically and or conceptually
the real where aspects can be based [unfixed / difficult / dissident /
materialised and digitised. fluid]) media.

This brings both clarity and opacity to I'm always encouraged / inspired by
some of the distinctions between the attempts to challenge, surprise and
virtual and real for me. intrigue audiences / attendees /
participants with experiments,
Some of the more interesting works I experiences and contexts that are
have seen cross this boundary. In personal, unpredictable and non-
some by simply helping us into or out traditional.
of the space by provided physical
clues like smell and touch as a way to These attitudes / activities play out in
reinforce, diffuse or suspend belief - or very contradictory / complex ways. I
help bypass the inadequacy of the VR personally find that technologically
headsets, 2D monitors and based work that requires slow /
projections. meditative viewing, can be more
rewarding in more intimate settings
Tom Betts: and that event-based activities that are
designed with a prevalent social
Just because digital art can be component can work very well in
technically complex doesn't mean to gallery spaces.
say we should provide simplistic work
to coax in the uninitiated viewer. In terms of personal spaces,
intimacies and histories, Ralph
Viewers bring their own perspectives Hocking, of the Experimental
and knowledge to a piece and I think Television Center
that there are an increasing set of (, has
viewers that find current 'digital art' expressed that the best conditions for
unsatisfying precisely because it isn't screenings of video art are for people
challenging in any way. to take the work home. Video art has
experienced a contentious history with
JonCates: the galleries and many of the people
from the early moment have complex,
While gallery exhibition has its conflicted and discontinuous positions
strengths the issues of gallery space about various forms of exhibition and
as a traditional, rehearsed, protected, distribution and the role of
privatized and cordoned-off zone of communities and individuals in
commercialized art practice and socio- determining the most appropriate
economic legitimation (sic) are many paths. Gallery spaces are capable of
[of] the tendencies to enter those creating very similar conditions to the
zones / spaces / structures are also intimacies that Ralph Hocking
multiple, overlapping and seductive. suggests, but it is a very delicate
situation which is easily undermined
We have opportunities to imagine and always haunted (by
physical / social structures that are commodification and socio-economic
more fitting. We have previous legitimating forces).
examples of artists who have sought
out and / or crafted alternative I know that many artists feel that they
structures. are presented with enough difficulties
in making their work and that the
We have examples of the now issues of exhibition and distribution
historical attempts by legitimating / may be beyond their immediate

concern or reach. Clearly, we all have I consider a lot of contemporary art as
responsibilities to find engaging paths big *old* frontal art for the moment: it
for ourselves and those that are gives itself in full in one glance. You
interested in our work while rarely stay more than 5 minutes
recognizing the influence that the path around or in a piece, most curators are
itself excerts. Hopefully, additionally now functioning in this context and I
having a responsibility to avoid feel this is inappropriate for most new
becoming just another sale at the media pieces.
counter culture of the gallery /
museum gift shop. I think "some efforts" still needs to be
done in lots of places / museums
Tamiko Thiel: before exhibiting *New Media* works
in a good way. Or maybe new *places*
It's not an issue of being simplistic, it is should be found / defined to become
an issue of whether the work is new type of museums.
compelling enough in the first tens of
seconds that I look at it, that I am Patrick Lichty:
willing to invest more time into
investigating and understanding it. Another conundrum has been the idea
of sculptural aspects of screen-based
Damien Hirst is a classic example - art, or in a way, the issues of creating
you may not understand it, but it another form of 3D based virtual
certainly grabs your attention, and that art. Representing these genres in the
makes you willing to invest time into gallery is a challenge on so many
understanding it. We are all competing fronts, from HCI to tech support to
for the viewer's time, whether we are structural points. It's really quite
on-line or off, users ultimately decide amazing how daunting the task of
for themselves whether or not to getting a piece off the screen, into the
bother with our piece. gallery, and connecting with the
audience is.
John Cage made incredibly conceptual
works, but so sensual that you are John Klima's works address the
spellbound by them and can't help but sculptural, so he has made the gallery
stay and listen through the whole a primary focus of his work. But this is
piece. Complexity shouldn't be a not the case with so much work I see,
license to make boring work. and for these individuals, projections,
while deepening the sense of 'aura', to
So we have the responsibility to make me are an analogy for having a 4-
our work interesting - instead of meter high monitor, and little else.
blaming the viewer for not being willing The fascinating thing to me is that
to spend hours with it in order somehow the gallery is the logical
to understand it. destination for new media. I can
understand the logic to this in regard
Patrick Keller: to the need to reach certain
audiences, but perhaps the gallery is
I have the feeling that most pieces are anachronistic. Too much of the work
too complex to be displayed in shouldn't be seen there in the first
museums: too long to understand, too place, with regards to intent,
long to see in full or even in part. If you representation, etc.
were exhibiting 10 films in a museum:
nobody would stay 15 hours to see it Melinda Rackham:
in full and they wouldn't get involved in
it if they stayed 2 hours. I’m just finishing my PhD thesis on
networked VRML, which is more
focused on why we deal in realist

representations in 3D space. On the framing function of the computer
nature of the VRML language itself, on screen / projection system. Some of
embodiment and on the secret lives of the qualities of the Memory Plains
avatars, and one of my conclusions is Returning performance seemed to
that we are at an early state of have nth dimensionality, with
adoption and adaptation with this overlapping environment structures
media - so we cling to the familiar. happening simultaneously on different
From my perspective it’s pretty simple,
we aren’t having failures we are 3D Art - publishing
having interesting learning
experiences, little dead ends that don’t Lloyd Sharp:
work because the approaches aren’t
inventive enough yet. 3D as an art Is there a useful way to talk about and
form and a specific technology isn’t look at these works in a publication
mature enough to branch out much, to with all the inherent limitations of that
take the leaps and bounds it needs experience?
What would these books that focus on
Taylor Nuttall: the work rather than the theory
tell us about the works?
The recent performance by Adam
Nash was hosted at Folly, bringing It may be that these texts / books have
multi-user works into the gallery space problems conveying what is
with different viewpoints into a virtual unique and exciting about the
space 'realtime' experience and therefore
brought home the 3D non-linear multi- default focus to art fame instead.
user experience to many who had
previously not really understood it. It’s also interesting that it seems there
is not a lot of talk in current theory
I am intrigued whether there are about the failure of technology and
different aesthetics associated with how that can be as exciting as the
single user / multi user spaces. successful use of it.

Obviously interface elements play a [personally I love those errant pixels,

part in this, but what about the the little tears in 3D space and
structures inherent in the space or inversed normals]
narratives embedded into the coding
etc. Steve Guynup:

How would our experience of say This issue of experience is a real one.
Beyond Manzanar change if we met But we aren't the first to face this
other avatars in the space? problem. Game Theory, Film Studies,
Sculpture, even Paintings have issues
Melinda Rackham has 2 versions of regarding reproduction in a book.
Empyrean, is just the logic of the
server The question becomes one of "Is the
technologies or something else being best level / amount of knowledge
changed? possible being shared and
Is the process of looking different? My
experience with Adam Nash’s Compare what's been published in
performance that a multi-view shared other media to books on VR. VR
experience seems to be bringing other books have few pictures, many
things into the equation than the opinions and rarely if ever talk about

design in 3D space. to adapt to a woolly representation of
complex data that suits the needs of
As for what I want - more docs like the data first, regardless of our
this: aesthetic or political preference for 2D, 3D, or time based.
Tamiko Thiel:
Brett Stalbaum:
In many ways publishing an artwork in
This is quite an interesting paper, a book has the same advantages and
particularly as it goes to the problem disadvantages as publishing an
of data representation in VR spaces. I artwork on the web: larger distribution
am not as optimistic about the merging since the object comes to the viewer
of 2D and 3D representational instead of vice versa.
strategies in data visualisation. 2D
strategies alone have proven quite Sometimes when I see exhibits of
powerful as a basis for representing photographs in museums I think it
multidimensional data sets. Of course, would've been better to look at them in
these emphasize the ability of the a book - but realistically if they were
reader to learn how to read the buried in a book I wouldn't have ever
representation, which may be highly looked at them. In a sea of books or
abstracted and very specific to the websites it makes a big difference if a
particulars of the data. museum or gallery mounts an exhibit
that says, "let's look at this work as a
How much mileage can be derived public group experience." Of course
from merging a third dimension (or 4th works whose scale naturally exceeds
in terms of narrative, time based the size of a book or the size of a
motion through space), into the monitor clearly suffer from being
visualization strategies needed to compressed into that smaller scale.
approach, for example, a 100 The experience is simply different.
dimensional space? Is 3D With interactive pieces the added
representation a very much more bonus is that if you and your
natural way to represent such a companion can't figure out how to
space? Which is essentially Steve's operate a piece, there is likely to be
point when he states "Data someone else around who knows and
representation in three-dimensions is can show you.
difficult because spatial-visual
information generated by the space If you think about the opportunity to
does not support and often contradicts show a piece publicly in a curated
the data the developer wants show on a large screen as an
represented. installation instead of hidden in the
privacy of someone's home who
My question is: is the layering of 2D doesn't have the right equipment
and 3D strategies likely to be that anyway, it is a clear choice. The
much more clear? drawback in a public exhibit is for
works - like computer games - that
As Lisa Jevbratt has been indicating require a long concentrated playing
recently, there is nothing wrong with time in order to produce a satisfying
allowing representation to be complex experience.
or difficult, and asking viewers to work
harder to understand it. Human brains
are powerful; thus perhaps one of the
best representational strategies is to
get out of the way as much as is
possible and trust in the human ability

3D Art – gender the artist and whilst manipulation of
the visual field produces a 3D effect
Melinda Rackham: the data itself is 2D, mapped relative
to a pseudo-3D camera/eye. Then
One of the issues that really sparked again, when is a synthetic image every
for me is that of gender imbalance in really 3D in that the 3D is a subjective
this art form.Maybe that’s because a sensory aspect of how time/space
lot of women have tended to deal with manifests its duality?
more theoretical issues like
corporeality or play with more One of my primary concerns in making
visceral imagery, or to be less Babel was to escape the cultural
concerned with navigational strategies, hegemony of Western notions of
or architectural or database space and how this echoes and
functionality. But then that isn’t always sustains our paradigms of self relative
true either, some only play with data to collective. In computer graphics it is
bases and architecture e.g. Eva hard to think of a way of creating
Wohlgemuth, Victoria Vesna, Mary spatially and temporally dynamic data
Flanagan, program5 girls , Margarette without using a system based on
Jahrmann, Linda Vigdor, Lynn either Cartesian or Polar co-ordinate
Hershman, Nicole Steinger, a lot of systems, where the primacy of the
whom have been shown in web3D individual visual point of view is
before. Maybe this imbalance is constant. In Babel, everybody's point
another facet to the issues of of view is given equal weight in the
why 3D work is undervalued, stifled, visualisation of its data-space in an
not considered arty enough. attempt to move away from the
Western dualism that conventional 3D
There is a "heavy under- visualisation systems are founded on.
representation of women" who make In Babel the visual field, as an
3D web art, as opposed to women instance of time/space, is created
who make other sorts of net art or art through the interaction of
in general. multiple viewers.

80% of the guests in this forum are Babel is a site specific work for a non-
male, around the same figures for site. The context of the work is non-
women in the lab 3D show. From my physical. The site is an abstract
observation the number is even lower thing...information space and the
for women who participate on any 3D taxonomy of knowledge that all
related mailing list. Yet I see quite a libraries represent...which the Internet,
few who are working in the higher tech where the project is realised, is.
end of 3D, like in CAVES. Maybe it’s
because they have been around The Dewey Decimal numbering
longer and there are more women in system, used in the cataloguing of
academic networks with access to library contents, is the key metaphor,
them? visualised in a three dimensional multi-
user space that is itself a metaphor for
the infinite nature of information. In
‡ artists introduce their work Babel, the Dewey Decimal system is
used as a mapping and navigation
Simon Biggs: technique. The structure of the library
is re-mapped into the hyper-spatial
Babel is not that constitutes the Web. The Dewey
strictly a 3D piece, as it was coded in numbering system is employed as a
2.5 D. That is, the code that allows the means to navigate the Internet itself,
visualisation of the data-space that the taxonomy inherent in the numerical
Babel is composed of was written by codes mapping onto web-sites that

conform with the defined subjects. matter, the human and the language.
With this triad, we are able to
In Babel, viewers logged onto the site overcome some of the crucial
are confronted with a 3D visualisation contemporary philosophical biases
of an abstract data space mapped as embodied in critical movements – as
arrays and grids of Dewey Decimal for example formalism (that functions
numbers. As they move the mouse only in the field of language and to
around the screen they are able to some extent in the field of matter),
navigate this 3D environment. All the psychologism (with the human
viewers are able to see what all the expressiveness through language),
other viewers, who are simultaneously historical materialism and
logged onto the site, are seeing. The neomarksisms – of course in the
multiple 3D views of the data-space theoretical form enabled by the
are montaged together into a single metalinguistics of Mikhail Bakhtin and
shared image, where the actions of the archaeology of Michael Foucault.
any one viewer effects what all the In the three projects all three
other viewers see. If a large number of substances are intertwined on the
viewers are logged on together the artistically specific level: the language
information displayed becomes so is considered from the point of view of
complex and dense that it breaks literary sciences and intertextuality, the
down into a meaningless abstract human through the theories and
space. practices of body art and performance,
the matter through Bakhtin's and
Narvika Bovcon & Ales Vaupotic: Foucault's theories of the materiality of
VideoSpace was created on the basis
of three projects: Javornik (2001), R III The VRML version of the VideoSpace
(2002) and VSA (2003). These are ( is
autonomous artistic projects (that have reduced to a platform in the black
been exhibited also separately), which infinite space and the conceptual triad
should be conceived through the of the 'relatiogram' language, human,
viewpoint of video-integrated media matter juxtaposed with the triad of the
and conceptual art. Each of the three projects Javornik, R III and VSA. The
projects and of course their space in the virtual reality of the VRML
relationships (alliance) in VideoSpace code is functionally reduced to the
are realised through multiple artistic minimal possible information in order
media: as video tape, video installation not to overload the Internet data
and web site, in some cases also as transfer. The platform in the black
an interactive CD-ROM (Javornik), space is manipulated by means of the
traditional paintings acrylic on canvas possible movements in the virtual
(R III) and corporate identity (VSA). space: the translation with the
VideoSpace is realized on different functions of zoom in and zoom out,
levels, too: first as a conceptual and the rotation of the object (the
diagram, than as an interactive CD- platform). Each of these manipulations
ROM with a virtual three-dimensional creates a travelling in the space,
hyperspace and as a reduction of the whereas through travelling different
CD-ROM version into the language of points of view and interest are created
VRML three-dimensional net reality. and discovered. Thereby the user
gradually approaches the 'relatiogram':
Three autonomous projects in the he/she can grasp it from a distance by
VideoSpace are connected to each zooming out or proceed from one
other by the conceptual horizon that mapped identity point to another. Each
defines each of them and all of them in of the identity points is linked to the
relation to each other. This is a triad of web pages of the project in concern.
irreducible cosmic substances: the Thus the spatially mapped relatiogram

is transferred to a parallel level of
separate pages by the instantaneous My participation in Web3D Art is
action of the web links. The linked almost kind of accidental. I wasn't very
pages may be considered flat in aware of the 3D qualities in my digital
comparison to the three dimensional art work until a friend pointed it out me.
translations in the virtual reality of the The 3D elements in my work are kind
VRML VideoSpace. This is one way of of a by-product of my main area of
exiting and re-entering the virtual interest, but I'm sure that those 3D
space of VideoSpace; the other is the elements in my work can tell
disclosure of the symbol of the something about how I try to deal with
relatiogram, which is the Star of David. notions of the narrative, the interface
It is the point of leakage of the virtual and 3D in hyper-space (nice word,
space into the real world space of a eh?).
specific social context that cannot be
perceived as a neutral appendix but The main aim of my work is to create
instead it modifies the self-contained a world on it's own (my world),
structure of the virtual reality and communicate digital visual art with
makes it dependent on and a part of different narrative and visual means,
the social network of discourses. achieve new aesthetical and emotional
qualities in computer graphics, on-line
Steve Guynup: art. I'm avoiding the grand text
narrative - the various pieces on my
My exploration of virtual space began website are studies of subjects and
in 1996. I suppose this makes me an objects (codes, visuals) that I
old-timer. At that discovered, that I find interesting,
guy is (I believe) the largest body of visually, technically, and in cultural
virtual works created by a single terms. I made a conscious decision to
individual. Coding, modelling, and avoid multi-layered narratives, more
concepts all come down to me. Still, specifically: I try to create digital art
the success of the work stems from a objects that express something
community of artists, poets and through themselves, that don't require
photographers who have allowed me to much text and explanation, and that
to adapt their finest work to this avoid stereotypical allegorical
medium. My work shown in web3 is references. The aim is to create strong
The Crystal Cabinet available at virtual objects, and to leave room for the user/visitor to experience the
From the onset the process of
adapting their work has been done Patrick Keller:
with a careful eye towards pushing the
boundaries of virtual design. Step by At fabric | ch we are architects trying to
step, small modifications are made to work on what we call contemporary
interaction and navigation schemes. space. Some of those works are
Beneath the poetic exterior the site is, included in the web3D art gallery or
in a sense, a handbook for builders of are digital gallery by themselves, some
virtual space. have been exhibited in museums or
other networked places, some are
Roya Jakoby: made for clients and allow us to be
much or less our own sponsors for
Rise + Shine aka Parvaneh (Persian research & experimental works, some
for Butterfly) is available in 2 versions: still don't exist!
FLASH: Because of the difficulties of showing
ml , and DHTML: large scale 3D work in museums, we are more and more considering the

‘demo’ like mode of intervention for access in the specific museum and on-
our works. closer to performances in line with distributed content but the
fact where they are some traces left main idea was really to keep it linked
after it and where the piece exists in its with a physical location and
own state, own material, being still morphology and to extend the modes
accessible or not -i.e. on-line-. btw of appropriation of the structure. if you
could the *demo* that is really also check
something coming directly from the
digital culture become a performing You will see what we've presented in
art genre? we also look at new places the SIGGRAPH Art gallery last year
to display the work, like clubs, national where we were in the "performing
telecom *hot spots*, equipped offices, artists" session. This interesting
big public billboards, etc... so to say, collaborative investigation about
we experiment the process of "screenscapes" and "screenspaces" is
exhibiting in itself trying to find new the result of a one week work session
and maybe more appropriate contexts between fabric | ch in Europe and US
to display the works. I must admit we and lab-au in Brussels and Berlin.
haven't find the perfect one for the
moment... Michael Arnold Mages:

We have worked around this theme on Mutual Assured Deconstruction is a

some of our pieces. couple of years democratised, musical-interactive
ago, we have suggested to canal+ to space that a participant can inhabit
set up a "museum" into their public 3D both somatically and through the
chat [called "Le deuxième monde"]. agency of a software-based
the idea was both to try to implant representation in real time. The
"museums" in new spaces contexts primary goals of MAD are to examine
and try to experiment specific ways of the transformative effect that new
producing the content [distant media has on the set of relationships
collaboration, extensive use of email, engendered by a performance
collaborative works]. of course, canal+ situation (primarily the audience-
gave us a lot of constraints. As the performer-artist triumvirate) and
"deuxième monde" was a "realistic established concepts of space,
world" [paris], we had to keep gravity experience and the body.
on, collision detection and so on. But
in the end, the process revealed to be Documentation of live event at:
very interesting with an on-line
opening, realvideo artists interviews
that could be follow on-line, etc. the Przemek Moskal:
"museum", La_Fabrique can still be
seen there: Edward Tang and I are the authors of 3D Sound Sculpture, which you can
view at:
Another recent try we've made was in
the extension and hybridation of a real cubes.html
contemporary museum - electroscape
002: When we were conceptualizing this
In this case, the idea is more to extend work, we both agreed that sound and
the space or multiply it! and that both 3D space have very strong
structures [the digital as well as the connection. Therefore, we decided to
physical one] could work together or concentrate our efforts on both
in parallel. This hybrid space can then creating playful environment in which
be exploited by both the commissioner the viewer can build his/her own sound
of the museum, the curators and the sculpture and play back the sounds in
artists. It will both exists with local

a non-linear way. sound. Sculptural + Aural =
"Sculptural". I am thinking of sculpture
Adam Nash: in the sense of Moholy-Nagy when he
said "The organization of light and
I am interested in Web3D in two shadow effects produce a new
distinct areas: enrichment of visions," Moholy-Nagy
- (In multi-user form) as a live eliminated shapes reminiscent of
performance medium. nature and sought to explore the
- As a sculptural medium. The spelling relationships of light, colour, tone and
is intentional and explained below. non-objective form. I find sonicised 3D
space to be a wonderful medium in
As A Live Performance Medium: which to explore these notions within
I'm interested in non-representational the new context of the Internet.
avatars as live performance devices
within multi-user spaces. Currently I c/mprintro.html
use a slightly modified version of
VNet, much like Melinda does, to Melinda Rackham:
realise this. I am attempting to develop
a performative vocabulary for 3D MU Empyrean is a multi-user VRML
space that uses the qualities and environment running on an Open
properties of the space itself, rather Source VNet server available at
than attempting to mimic or replicate
physical space. (For this reason, I ery.
eschew the use of the term "Virtual The work plays with the concept of the
Reality" which happily has more or net being a living organic space and
less fallen out of fashionable re-dresses the seemingly prevalent net
use anyway. Likewise, I find the term desire to remake on-line virtual space
'avatar' problematic, both because it as a poor imitation of the "real".
has quickly come to imply a direct Empyrean offers an on-line
representation of the user and also environment, which has no horizon
because of its dodgy etymology. I line to anchor oneself against, and no
struggle, however, with suitable attachment to offline "hard" space. It is
replacement terms). also a meditation on the form and
beauty of virtual space, its electronic
My piece in Web3D Art, Memory first nature if you like.. as the low
Plains Returning, is more or less a polygon modelling makes clear that we
sketch out of the above ideas, using a are inhabiting computer constructed
personal exploration of memory as the space and exposes its seams..
conceptual performative impulse. As a
composer I am very much drawn to The world consists of 7 interconnected
the spatialized sound capabilities of scapes each with a different aesthetic
the 3D space working in concert with and theoretical reference. The
the visual sense, and I see this influences coming form popular
interplay as an integral part of the physics, some scapes are named after
experience. Along with two other quarks, which are small sub-atomic
performers, John McCormick and particles - strange and charm; ideas of
Kema T. Ekpei, I will be presenting a spirituality (Empyrean is named from
live MU version of Memory Plains the medieval term for the final and
Returning at Folly (and on-line) encompassing sphere of the heavens
towards the end of this month. in an earth-centred universe. It also
deals with ideas of the postHuman in a
As a Sculptural Medium: quiet visually crude way with a
In a far more personal way, I am transparent but bloody and beating
deeply attracted to 3D space as a heart penetrate by information threads
sculptural medium with built in spatial in the "truth" scape; with the

colonisation of the web, the isolation around the viewer's avatar. In a sense
of virtual space, and of course the you could navigate by sound alone as
ideas of the tactility and sensory each zone has a distinctive
embodiment in networks the touch of soundscape, like the glassy crunching
connectedness.. and grinding spheres of "chaos", or the
frenetic cellular skating rink in "charm",
I am drawn to VRML as it has the or the tinkling birdsong of the
great advantage of operating within delicately choreographed neurones in
low enough bandwidth to network "void."
relatively complex environments
containing multiple users, and radically Ayoub Sarouphim:
diverts Virtual Reality from its early
ideals of seamless sensory immersion World I is one of my first attempts at
into a duplication of hardspace made creating interactive Virtual
possible only to a few by environments. My concerns at that
supercomputing technology; into an time were pretty simple and straight
easily accessible application which forward:
allows mass participation and Creating an abstract urban space that
interactions in mixed reality. the user might relate to Generating a
Meanwhile it retains just that right organic "alien" form that would attract
balance of transparency and the user by it's intrusion Attaching sets
chunkiness to remind us that we are of behaviours that will make the user
the creators of our own simultaneously go through unusual displacement
subjective and objective viewpoints. methods. The project is available at and a
Users interact via avatars that have no downloadable version of Eon personal
human characteristics whatsoever, edition is available at
rather being cellular or electronic under "support".
constructions. This addresses the
trend to homogenize avatar Grégoire Zabé:
representation to a tall western
silicone enhanced stereotype. In the Inframonde - is a participative
gallery space users primarily interact cyberlandscape. It is composed of a
through sound and gesture. Avatars multitude of facets, organized in a kind
are very cute may squeak, squawk, of tunnel. Each one of these facets is
blink, swell up and go opaque, gurgle, likely to collect a "photographic
giggle, blush. By using means other fragment" downloadable directly on
than text for communication the multi- line via the interface of the site. The
user VRML domain is not tied to a idea is to constitute a "mental
dominant language group, age landscape" where the images brought
category or educational factors, and it by each participant amalgamate. This
makes immersion in the space a fun new space offers a kaleidoscopic
activity. One of the outcomes for me perception, a fragmented vision of the
doing the is work has been the delight world, recomposed artificially.
of engaging with avatars as a new
hybrid life form - a soft skinned Méso-American mythology often calls
species. upon the image of a complex
underground world, an "inframonde".
Sound is really important to immersion This space, unlike our hell, is a place
here, and its design by Mitchell of transition, inhabited by beings of all
Whitelaw is spatialized and attached to natures, which sail between various
the etheric objects, which are mostly layers and degrees of depth, likely
moving and often set at different constantly to come back at surface,
pitches, so once inside the world the and to act on reality. Its evocation is
soundscape is constantly shifting seldom pejorative, but rather a source

of excitation of imaginary of the the first "building" material. It induces a
humans. It is included/understood like deep modification of the place of the
a complementary space to the "real" user, and of our representation
world . This acceptance of a balance systems. The point is not anymore
ground/basement, where it takes place, but when, and
conscious/unconscious, real/virtual, what part of it can see. The work is not
seems to us to be an element founder only what I see, but a part of it and
of the project, like this capacity to especially a moment of it. In that line,
create a collective imaginary. we can talk about an ecology of
cyberlandscapes. The "participative"
The interface of our project allows the way of building projects produces a
transport of these individual strong link between spectators. "Virtual
perceptions, with an aim of creating a reality" (even if I don't like this word)
shared vision, through their becomes an hybridisation of real
coexistence in the inframonde. There spaces, a continuation of it. These
is a real need for today creating tools "social links" are almost as important
which one can be adapted, as those we build in "real" spaces. My
transformed, on which we can modify work of designer makes me specially
the "source code". There is a guiding aware about that.
principle brought by the project, which
functions like a rule of game: the facets
are organized in five groups (ground, ‡ cultural perspectives in 3D
mid-ground, skyline, mid-sky, sky)
which define the type of photographic Simon Biggs:
fragments to install in the tunnel. Thus
a participant can bring an end of One of my primary concerns in making
ground, which will be supplemented by Babel was to escape the cultural
an end of sky brought by another or by hegemony of Western notions of
itself. In thus rises a heterogene place, space and how this echoes and
which is only one structure "to live", sustains our paradigms of self relative
and which has the capacity to be to collective. In computer graphics it is
rewritten perpetually, each image hard to think of a way of creating
being able "to be crushed" by the spatially and temporally dynamic data
arrival of a new one. A series of without using a system based on
"snapshots" will make it possible to fix either Cartesian or Polar co-ordinate
moments of this universe in mutation. systems, where the primacy of the
individual visual point of view is
The integration of a chat, creating a constant. In Babel, everybody's point
multi-user space, also goes in the of view is given equal weight in the
direction of a tool of cohesion and visualisation of its data-space in an
communication and experimentation. attempt to move away from the
We hope that this richness will Western dualism that conventional 3D
continue through the catch in hand by visualisation systems are founded on.
the greatest number of this project, and In Babel, the visual field, as an
that actions and reflections resulting instance of time/space, is created
from various cultures will come to give through the interaction of multiple
him life. viewers.

The work deals with time, People experience things from their
action/events/disruption, and own physical point of view. What they
representation / projection. The "new see is usually a function of where they
medias", since cinema at the end of are and what physical attitude they
19th century, gave the possibility of adopt relative to the subject. With
"sculpting time". Multimedia and augmented vision (periscopes, mirrors,
especially web3D made of time one of remote cameras, etc) we are able to

see things from places where we are seems to be that scientists (rather than
not present. With time-shifting artists) are really grooving on ideas of
technologies, such as the video parallel universes and so on that may
recorder, we can also see things from provide paths to this kind of state - in
the past; a time and a place we may the May issue of Scientific American
never have visited. This is there is a long article about parallel
extrapolated through the remote universes that includes sections on the
networking of sites that are actual 9 dimensions, and how space+time
installation spaces; where the physical didn't separate for at least 50,000
movements of viewers in the space years after the big bang. Of course this
generate multiple perspectives, linked is a very western-flavoured view to
to other similar sites at remote take, as evidently other cultures have
locations or to other viewers entering been comfortable with multiple
the shared data-space through a web perspectives for a long time.
based version of the work. The
processes involved in such a practice John Klima:
reflects on the non-singularity of being
and the sense of self as linked to time Regardless of whether a mathematical
and place. model represents a manifestation of
cultural hegemony, the existing model
Non-western world models and is the only way a synthetic
anything that is different to what we representation of space could ever
are familiar with is always interesting, hope to exist in the first place. If the
if only to remind us of the contingency algorithmic supposition of the system
and relative nature of our beliefs. The employed is such that the rendered
underlying issue for me is that of space represents "the real," regardless
ontology, how we feel and believe of the number of conceptual
ourselves to be. viewpoints combined to form the final
image, to the individual viewer viewing
Adam Nash: it (and certainly to the domain
knowledge the rendering system
Many artists are thinking about this at represents) one actually sees only a
this juncture in history. I think the properly formed three dimensional
point that Simon was trying to make is space, and any effect otherwise is an
that ultimately even the so-called 3D optical illusion. The world is all that is
space is the product of the last few the case.
hundred years of single-point
perspective (a feedback loop with In a practical sense, the only way to
arrogant expansionary European question the rendering system we
culture and worldview) and therefore are all employing, is to find and exploit
the rendering device (including the the bugs in the system. To
screen and the VRML, or whatever, show through the system's limitations,
browser/rendering mechanism and where it falls down, where it
indeed even the idea of computer fails. Divide by zero.
graphics) is trapped within a Cartesian
space view. Alan Sondheim:

3D spaces “seem” to offer a greater However, I wonder if it's possible to

chance to escape this paradigm. In define or delineate these co-ordinates
actuality, they don't - it is up to artists (polar etc.) through neural networks; in
to conceptualise a non-Cartesian other words, place the co-ordinates
single-point perspective (multi- themselves within a fluctuating
viewpointed?) paradigm, after which system. I'm thinking among other
the software for realising it can quickly things of the paintings of Kuo Hsi and
be built. Having said that, though, it other Chinese landscapists, where the

perspective is complex and look, if we could see far enough, we
heterological, without any hegemonic would glimpse the same point, the
positioning.…the paradigm need not origin of all things, the beginning of
be polar or Cartesian - that these co- time, the meeting place. All lines
ordinates are only a mediative intersect in this geometry. There are
representation producing something in no parallel lines.
'real' space for the viewer.
Regina Célia Pinto:
John Klima:
Do not forget that all straight line is a
Hyper-space (nD) is incredibly curve line of infinite ray, so
fascinating. however, I can’t really that, each straight line segment which
"see" the nth dimension, because I is the minor distance between two
have nothing to use as a referent. On points in the Euclidean Geometry is a
a 2d screen (or in a painting) I can curve segment of infinite ray.
perceive 3D because I exist in 3D. Geometries are really beautiful are
However if I had a 3D screen, I still they not?
won't perceive the 4th dimension
because I don't mentally exist in that Adam Nash:
4th dimension. Its the flatworld
problem. However, I certainly don't I thought scientists generally accepted
deny that nth dimensions exist, we can there are 9 dimensions? Don't
conceptualize and even implement quantum physicists now talk about
them mathematically. In art, it all 'our' big bang, rather than 'the' big
ultimately boils down to an individual bang because they have accepted that
viewer, existing in "this" world, coping there are an infinite number of parallel
with the thing in front of them. Spatial universes? I imagine that there are a
representation can be metaphoric, lot of possibilities in infinity...
coded, symbolic, or scientific – we are
all always completely stuck with how I find it interesting to play around with
the universe actually is. what you call the 'machine's
understanding' - one of the things I
Jim Andrews: find most rewarding about working
with computers is telling them to do
There are such things as non- things they have not been
Euclidean geometries. They generally programmed to consider. I love the,
preserve the notion that a 'straight line' often quite startling, glitches that result
is the shortest distance between two when you do some 'physically
points, but if the space is, say, only the impossible' geometry in a 3D program
points on the surface of a sphere, then - they freak out! They don't say "that is
a 'straight line' turns out to be part of a not possible within the conceptual
great circle, i.e., the shortest distance framework of space I’ve been
between two points on the surface of a designed to interpret, let's talk about
sphere is part of an 'equatorial' circle. it", they render it anyway! And often it
looks wonderful. As Melinda has often
The geometry of the universe in some said here and elsewhere, she likes to
cosmologies is supposed to be non- show the seams.
Euclidean. In the big bang theory,
there's an origin point to the universe, I'm not interested at all in how web3D
the beginning of time, and the universe can be used to represent the physical
is supposed to be an expanding four- world, or visual perceptions thereof. I
dimensional sphere. When we look out much prefer exploring the properties of
into the sky at night, the further we the space itself - there is no gravity
see, the further back in time we see. unless you assign it, no up or down
So that no matter what direction we unless you assign it, no here or there

unless you assign it, and so on. Of brain is ever, even for a nanosecond,
course when it is rendered to the actually believing that what they are
screen it attempts to do it in seeing is 'reality'. The much vaunted
conformance with the Cartesian 'suspension of disbelief' is a myth in
framework, but then it goes and does it my opinion: there is no 'suspension',
in a 2D space, which is just as rather a very conscious, and quite
unrelated to the space we walk around sophisticated, dualism or multiplicity of
in isn't it? perception. Because of this, I think
there is a much greater chance of
John Klima: producing moving art by not worrying
about whether the 'wires' can be seen
I love the notion of "our" big bang, as it or not.
parallels the Brahman (I think) myth
that the universe emanates from the Christina McPhee:
navel of Brahma as he sleeps on a
giant lotus leaf. It springs forth, Well, this reminds me how fascinating
expands, contracts and is destroyed, it is how Sergei Eisenstein invented
over and over again. Nobody knows the technique of montage through his
how many times the universe has imaginative engagement with the
been created, existed, and then famous etchings of Piranesi. The
destroyed. Carcieri series, or invented prisons, in
which, as in 3D VR, a necessary
To your point about the glitches of a reliance on Cartesian xyz co-ordinates
3D rendering system, indeed the subverts itself in convoluted
renderer never complains about data 'impossible' spaces that overlap and
that doesn't look right to us, it draws torque like fluid avatars. Eisenstein
slavishly what ever we tell it to draw, recalls his elation:
and it does so according to the rules "I ponder what would happen to this
we define for it. So, if we create a etching if it were brought to a state of
particularly wonky set of data, we ecstasy, if it were brought out of
know its wrong but the machine itself...ten exposions (sic) will be
doesn't. Our understanding of right enough to 'transform' ecstatically this
and wrong, in this spatial and graphic diagram which has been drawn in front
sense, is what I find interesting here. of our eyes..." Sergei Eisenstein, from
My personal tastes lean not toward the "Piranesi, Or The Fluidity of Forms"
"correct," but definitely away from the
glitchy. Note that it is the bringing out of the
self, the exstasis that is the seminal
Alan Sondheim: connection to montage from the prison
series. And this, so ironically, since
Another way of looking at this is our the imaginary prisons are like
psychoanalytical tendency at this point endlessly looping passageways
to want to escape from the hell of our without exits, a Sartrean universe,
own reality - and to escape at a most kinda like the 3D world.
fundamental level
Alan Sondheim:
Adam Nash:
This is what Polyani calls tacit
To me, this point introduces the knowledge, which is always gained
'realism' argument, where the 3D through familiarity. The same thing -
graphics industry has become taciticity – happens even in reading a
completely, and very unhealthily novel, when the world of the novel at
IMHO, obsessed with trying to trick the first appears unfamiliar (and if scifi,
eye, which is such an old fashioned even with new language, neologisms),
idea. I don't believe that any person's

and then over time and reading, make guesses as to how it was
becomes almost a second home. programmed, I look for things to steal.
Your average consumer of video
Simon Biggs: games probably doesn't do this, and
probably tries very hard to avoid
Whilst I said it is difficult it is also noticing the cracks in their fantasy. So,
entirely possible not only to imagine in a sense the suspension of disbelief
non-Cartesian modelling of space but is a form of denial, really.
also to write code to do it. It is only
difficult because it requires you to use The case of Age of Empires, or
your imagination to think outside a set revisionist history through realistic
of conventions that are so rendering techniques and ultimately
fundamentally hegemonic in through an interface, we see a
determining how we see things that we problematic state. I make reference to
think things are actually the way we this in my works The Great Game and
think we see them. tgg - Iraq expansion pack and
campaign maker v1.0. It’s a disturbing
Plentiful examples of non-Cartesian trend towards a completely mediated
single point spatial rendering models experience, where real world events
exist. I think here, for example, of how are experienced in real time, through
Medieval artists dealt with space and an interface rather than in the flesh.
time in their work, often having But history has always been relative,
different temporal aspects of a scene the winner always writes the books,
placed in the same spatial frame whilst and one can’t really expect the new
simultaneously breaking up that spatial mediums to be less subject to this
frame to allow for a rendering of the phenomenon.
image that took account of the relative
values of the objects contained within Unfortunately, the tools available are
that spatial envelope. That is, Christ all Cartesian, and alternatives must
on the cross would loom larger than finally be mapped to that Cartesian
the figures around him, in defiance of space prior to final presentation. This
our contemporary expectations of to me is an inherent flaw in the
spatial representation, not because endeavour. It’s Heisenberg's
these artists were unable to get the Uncertainty Principle. Inevitably, the
relative scale of things right but tools we use to measure the results of
because they were less interested in a the experiment effect the outcome.
"photographic" rendering of things and Cartesian space does not represent an
more intent on an imaging strategy arbitrarily arrived at ‘world view’,
that addressed the cultural value of determined not by how things are, but
things. by the force of western greed and self-
righteousness. There probably
The spatial systems you are arguing actually is this thing called reality, that
are inescapable are only that if you actually does play by certain rules, that
choose to work within a certain world we are endlessly in the process of
view and specifically choose to work trying to understand, and that though
with off the shelf technologies based we are all limited by our cultural
on that world view. background, sometimes we just get it
right. I’m not trying to suggest that
John Klima: Cartesian space is the "correct space"
I’m saying its a really really really
As a person intimately involved with useful space, a close approximation of
the medium, it becomes difficult to see our everyday perception, regardless of
it freshly. The same holds true for the culture that produced it.
video games. I look very intently at
how they put together the scene, I Lets not forget that space (i.e. real

estate) has always been commodified, accepted the idea of making a profit
its not just a contemporary state. That out of it is not. In the UK, for example,
notions of ownership and commodity it has been traditionally impossible for
of "virtual space" (domain name a Muslim to buy a house (unless for
registration for example) have cash) as it is against their beliefs to
occurred is no big surprise. The charge or pay interest on loans or
homogeneity of our virtual spaces has savings. This is seen as profiting from
less to do with them being the ownership of things, which is not
commodified (I don't see that they are permitted. This is now changing as
commodified, or homogenous) and Islamic mortgage models are being
more to do with, as Simon mentioned, imported from the middle-East and
the proliferation of off-the-shelf tools even adopted by some of the big UK
functioning under the same banks for niche marketing. Of course,
mathematical model (a very useful this is not without its contradictions.
model in my opinion).
I am not seeking to argue that this
I’d argue that the spaces we are makes these cultures superior to
creating as artists are far from ours...just that to accept the idea of
homogenous, as is evidenced by the commodification, and all that flows
diversity of approaches in the from that, as default is incorrect and
web3D/Lab3D show. That the spaces highly damaging to a potential
created by the gaming industry seem broadening of possible ways of
homogenous is no big surprise, driven organising things (with which all
by "market forces," namely teenage creative people must surely be
boys. Let us also not forget that the concerned). It is probable that most
gaming industry, every now and then, people on this planet actually live in
does offer alternatives, at least in non-commodified cultures (1 billion
terms of paradigms if not mathematical Indians, 2 or more billion Chinese,
models. The Sims is a fine example. large tracts of Africa and Asia, would
The success of the Sims I hope will have no idea what we are talking
encourage the industry to further push about in respect of many of the
the paradigm envelope. The failure of referents we have treated as default in
"the Sims on-line" is an unfortunate this discussion to date).
The examples that are arising in this
Simon Biggs: discussion, such as commodification,
Cartesian space, computer games and
There are numerous examples of Western teen-culture demographics
cultures where space has not been should not, in my opinion, be treated
commodified or territorialised. I think of as central issues in this debate (they
the Australian Aborigines who see seem very marginal to me). Certainly,
themselves as the product of the land my own practice has nothing to do with
and as its children (although computer games and never has (I hate
simultaneously its custodians) and the things - a noisy and adolescent
who do not have any notion of waste of time) and as an artist who
property. They do have the idea of has chosen to work in a post-object
having "stories" which they must format and with no gallery affiliation
protect, but they must also pass them (when young I had such a thing, but
on to the next generation to also consciously walked away from it for
protect and keep alive. It was quite a moral reasons) commodification is
shock to them when Europeans something I perceive to be resisted or
arrived, who then immediately began even actively countered. The very
building fences and carving up the concept of a "demographic" is just
land. another instrument in the process of
In Islam whilst the idea of ownership is commodification and people that use

such language, as a matter of course, sophistication within this medium. Us
are therefore commodifiers artists, like it or not, are constantly
(determiners of property rather than compared to the gaming industry and
creators of shared experience). its standards. Anyone with a lick of
sense realizes that the comparison is
I chose to work with computers not tenuous at best, as if independent film
because they are associated with the is somehow inferior because it does
military-industrial complex (this old- not have the same production values
fashioned term seems more relevant as the Hollywood product. However,
today than ever before), game culture when a work of digital art, or
or "straight" space but because they independent film, comes close to
allow me to arrive at new relationships those standards, it is noticed and
between things that might assist in the appreciated.
deconstruction, even destruction, of a
commodified, territorialised and overly Secondly, there are the navigation and
signified world. interaction paradigms that games
introduce. Every so often a game
Given what I have just written above, it changes the expected devices of
should be clear that I would regard navigation, in service to its play.
the gaming industry as deeply
problematic and ultimately alien to any Thirdly, there are the AI and
creative and experimental practice. behavioural algorithms advanced and
The fact it is an industry is bad developed by the gaming industry that
enough, but worse, in its very central seem to crop up in artwork all the time.
metaphors the "game", whether a These are very exciting concepts to
computer game or not, functions to me and a great many other artists.
establish models of human behaviour They represent a "soul of the
that one can only regard as negative, machine." Behaviours + 3D space =
promoting attitudes such as reality, for me.
competition, ownership, control, etc.
These are the very values that I, and I Fourth, just the thought that these
have always felt most artists, have machines can indeed be employed
chosen to work away from or simply as a "waste of time" as you put
against...that is why many chose to be it, I like to think of it as simply being "without specific function or utility,"
establishes a certain criteria for art in
John Klima: the first place. If the general
understanding was such that a
I think most artists simply endeavour computer's sole purpose is for getting
to make something beautiful, or useful work done, there would be no
meaningful, or emotionally resonant, possible hope that the computer could
regardless of, or indeed in spite of, the ever be perceived of as an artistic
world the work exists in. medium.

Fifth, very occasionally, some darn

good narrative unfolds within a game
‡ 3d games and 3d art world. Narrative is, or can be, art.

John Klima: And finally, tying a bunch of these

thoughts together, what thrills me
I feel games are central to a about the medium, and about games
discussion of new media art in as its commercial manifestation, is this
general, and 3D art specifically, for a notion of a whole, real, and cohesive
great many reasons. Games represent universe, existing entirely within all
firstly, the highest level of technical those transistors and chips, playing by

its rules and laws, coming into being interesting game theorists out there.
entirely through a descriptive language They, like us, are just trying to work
- in some cases reflecting the rules things out. See the folks at:
and laws of our universe, and in some Dr. Janet Murray
cases turning them on their head. author of Hamlet on the Holodeck is
this month's special columnist.
Tom Betts:
Still, game companies are
I agree that the games industry is economically adverse to dynamic
victim to all the evils of commercial change. Will Wright had to threaten to
exploits is film and writing.. its quit (and actually mean it) to get the
just that the games industry is less Sims created. It can sometimes
mature than the others.. I guess you’re happen, just not often. And whether
gotta be in it to win it.. or something you like the Sims or not, it was
like that.. something quite new – even
Gameplayers (an increasing mob of
nextgen kids) can fly helicopters Somewhere between high-level game
around vice city on their playstations. concepts and low-level coding lies a
They are familiar with digital interactive region of design that's really at the
media and usually skilled interface core of the interactive medium. It's
users. Games often provide a high here that causal relationships,
level of interactivity but have poor feedback cycles, information
conceptual content. Interactive art propagation and emergence
usually presents more abstract and mechanisms reign supreme. This is
complex concepts but has terrible what Wright calls "dynamics"; the rules
interface/interaction. Ok so 'that's not and principles that govern the way in
the point of the work' you say. But which structures change through time.
what irks me is that there is very little The design and use of early
work that addresses this. As a result prototypes is covered as a means to
many people will dismiss much explore and sculpt a variety of
interactive art as just a screensaver or dynamic systems.
digital toy. This includes me and was
my reaction to much of the Lab3D Melinda Rackham:
exhibition I won’t go into individual
pieces but I found I spent less time I am perturbed that gaming has put a
with a piece than I would do at the massive degree of expectation onto
national gallery. users of and 3D art. This is above and
apart from the seamless, slick
I am happy that this sort of work is 'persectival' production values that
being promoted by contemporary John pointed out where can't of
galleries but I felt that the course compete. The critical issues
exhibition/format had a lot of problems. are, I think, gaming and film industries,
I guess I am airing my own apathy which are becoming increasingly
here but I’m sure that it is a fairly intertwined. This puts an unconscious
common feeling for many 'teched up' expectation of structure into the minds
people. I'm not asking to see work that of users.. because there is a rhythm
requires a full knowledge of C++ just users are looking for, its the same as a
some things that don’t seem to movie rhythm.. or a porn movie rhythm
patronise me. would be a better example.. bit of talk-
bit of sex-bit of talk-sex-talk etc. I
Steve Guynup: noticed this adrenaline type rhythm
really strongly in action movies, and
While I don't agree with some aspects that rhythm is really pronounced
of Game Theory there are many many in games, bit of exploring-bit of killing

(or points scoring)- bit of exploring- these works - why is the work made
killing etc. using and exploring those
technologies? and is it art? or
So, when you get to a piece of 3D net commercial product? or something of
art.. you may feel let down before you a different variety? [i.e. is art just
even do anything with it. The another commercial realm?]
expectation of the adrenaline hit isn’t
there, the primate body chemistry Is it actually important to engage the
peaks and troughs to hook you in same audience that is somehow
haven’t happened. I have had people engaged by the spectacle that is 3D
say to me about my Empyrean work.. kill fests? [or maybe just Tetris?] I can
"well what’s the point" ..what are you see how a 12 year old will get involved
supposed to do when you can’t find in a Diablo expedition... I have been
obvious markers of reality or game addicted for years!.. but do I have
play.. "you mean you’re just supposed anything else to say or other ideas to
to look at it and think about it?" "how explore with that 12 year old -
can avatars communicate if there is no probably not. I would rather 'play' with
text input?" “jesus christ.. art that someone else in art...
wants you to meditate on it.. !!”
Simon Biggs:
How long are we supposed to engage
a viewer for? 30 seconds to 3 I am not saying there is no creativity or
minutes, 10 minutes?.. What is the innovation in the entire commercial
average time in front of a painting, 20 media sector, in TV, Hollywood, most
seconds..? Yet we demand so, so other cinema, 99% of the net, and
much from 3D art. It’s always in most of print. Nor any craft. I agree,
relation to other media.. never valued there is buckets of it.But the values
by its intrinsic qualities, never for itself. that underlie the whole thing ensure
As Roya was saying, the 72dpi that anything of value is crushed and
aesthetic is beautiful. So is the all you are left with is the pornographic
lagged, polygony and uncertainty of exploitation of the "user". ....and "user"
3D worlds… and I think that only is a good word as the makers of this
happens when we stop the stuff are no different to the drug
comparisons ourselves.. when we stop dealers who are also looking to
trying to mimic other forms, accept the develop new "user" markets (in fact I
parameters and work with the have a lot more time for drugs than for
subtleties. contemporary media culture...).
Melinda's description of the adrenaline
geniwate: driven quality of contemporary games
and cinema is exactly what I am
I like games and I like art but I like referring to. The main gland I am
them in different contexts and interested in is the brain...not the
different moods. I reckon the sorts of adrenal or testes.
experiences we seek from games and
art are rather different; I think it is Tom Betts:
slightly misleading to try to put the two
on the same experiential continuum. To me the best art reflects the culture
it exists within, not just the output of a
Lloyd Sharpe: brain. A brain doesn't function like a
suspended entity divorced from the
Yes - why is there a need to look only body, it’s a reflexive system within the
to the 'larger' 'wider' 'bigger' audience body. This is a very modernist stance
when developing these works? and also one that hints at notions of
superiority. Art should be about more
Isn't this a fundamental issue with than just the life of the mind.

The current digital art market is one of movie only observing the visual
the most obviously fashion driven narrative. The narrative with images is
examples. I'm sure that we are all much more important than the textual
producing 'products' for an audience narrative. In this way, what you think
that consume them, and where money about the movie is not the same
is exchanged there is a capitalist message you receive if you read the
structure. The difference between shit legends (as me) or listen to the actors.
films and good films is a value
judgement, but if you have to pay to To an artist who works with games the
see them or make them then they are challenge is: how to use the aesthetics
still products in a marketplace of users of the games to do art and to make
and commodification. You either have people think.
to work within the system or not, or
work within it and shout about it? Roya Jakoby:

Adam Nash: Game technology itself is not the

problem, it's what you make out of it.
I think that its wonderful that Web3D Game orientated artists should take
can accommodate, in the same from the commercial sector whatever
exhibition no less, one artist who is useful to them, whatever inspires,
thinks that "games are central to a revolts, appeals, cries out loud. Ever
discussion of new media art in more so, since the commercial sector
general, and 3D art specifically", and itself doesn't have any hesitations to
another who dismisses games as feed itself of the arts.
absolutely irrelevant, a "noisy and
adolescent waste of time". JonCates:

For myself, I think the games industry Being concerned w/+ emeshed in
makes Hollywood look like a positive digital cultures locates us in/on this
bastion of progressive, intellectual, terrain and among various aspects
non-sexist cosmopolitanism. such as game -> art -> video -> theory
However, there are quite a few games practices, commerces + histories. In
I have enjoyed playing over the years- terms of the expectations of the
some, like Zelda on N64, have a markets, we should not forget to call
special place in my heart. attention to the constraints of the local,
regional, national + global art-markets
But, I don't think I've ever played a and the ways in which these
game that made me think. constraints function to determine the
Art makes a person think. qualities of the work produced. In
terms of expectations for the User
Regina Célia Pinto: Interface and responsiveness, a work
such as “ ecosystem” is set-up to
The important thing about games is make these direct connections (via a
just to know how they can influence PS style controller) and thereby
ART. On the one hand lots of artists intentionally exist on the "same
are working with games now and experiential continuum" (as the PS
those games make one think. I am platform and the games available [as
speaking about Art games. You well as the entire history of Sim
certainly know Arteroids and perhaps building games]). This connection
The Black and the White, reflections means that the experiences will be
on fog, which contains the Fog Game. compared, contrasted, etc +
opportunities exist for (meta-level)
On the other hand did you see Matrix commentaries w/in them. This
Reloaded? It is the aesthetics of a opportunity when utilized, imho, is
computer game, you can watch the

what can create + sustain excitement, watch/collude with satellite|parallel
energy, etc. constructions that enhance [i.e. offer
loadings] that complete the story
Tamiko Thiel: jigsaw - like _Enter the Matrix_ video
game + The Animatrix.
I'm also not a gamer, although put me
in front of a console and I'll fire away This isn't a new phenomenon.....look
like crazy - it's just that I'm not very at _Twin Peaks_ for instance [movie
good, die quickly and have no interest series, book (_The Diary of Laura
in investing time into improving my Palmer_) and movie]...but it seems to
game. be becoming a more dominant
pattern...look at _Donnie Darko_
There is a huge group of people out [movie + website] + _The Blair Witch
there who are really excited to find 3D Project_ [book, movie, website]...not to
games technology being used for mention _AI_...........also the
other purposes - including a lot of girls conversion of comics/books in2 film,
who are not interested in the first- games in2 film [_The Final Fantasy_
person shooter games but are really game + film].......
attracted to slower, more poetic
pieces and have to be torn away from It's like audiences r n.couraged 2 step
the joystick by their parents. And these outside the restrictions
are exactly the people who DON'T like of mono-media absorption channels +
the competitive aspect and the porn actively seek additional
movie rhythm. But it's also clear that narrative components elsewhere...bit
the computer games industry is like an ANG cultural engine I guess....
training the upcoming generations for
us, so that we don't have to stand jonCates:
there and tell people how to use our
work. Celia Pearce, a visiting scholar who
studies games at the University of
I do believe that there is simply a lag Southern California's Annenberg
time and 3D will enter the gallery Center for Communication, is using
system at some point, just like video Pokemon as a model to teach young
did after being ignored for so long. But game makers how to create what she
I think it is also important for us as calls "transmedia" games that can
artists to examine the time-based straddle many platforms and media.
interactive experience and understand
what makes it compelling for the user. I like Pokemon wherein Pokemon
Island becomes a hub in a network of
Mez: meanings, activities, technologies,
platforms, etc. It is interesting to see
...this sparked off a chain of thought these tendencies increase + the Matrix
centering round the idea of ANG seems to be a place where these
[_Active Narrative Gathering_] attitudes are very self reflexively @
ANG I’m referring 2 how some play.
m.mergent forms of
art|n.tertainment|simulcra r In terms of the collection aspect, most
interconnected via narrative threads of the activities in Pokemon are driven
b.yond parent forms/individualised by + inspire a sort of hyperactivated
media constrictions...i.e. if u want the capitalist/colonialist collection. I'll admit
complete narrative picture to having collections of unopened
[i.e. join-the-story-dots- Pokemon cards + toys in my
campbellesqueness-hero-journey- collection. In any case, this is the
style] that is available when watching collection of art as an activity very
_Matrix Reloaded_ u *must* different from previous situations

which functioned as a form of Nothing is there or does anything that
economic/social support. we didn't (even accidentally) program.
Time on the other hand we don't
Barrie Collins: control. The user moves through the
space at their own pace and in their
What you bring to the viewing of a own directions. They create their own
work, whether digital/interactive or linear narrative, their own timeline of
traditional media, influences how you events.
see it, experience it. In this respect
also if you bring to your experience of In the end, we negotiate time with the
a work a meditative, informed state of user. We do this by creating pathways
mind you are likely to get more out of in which we hope/have to follow our
it; so with sound being able to listen in timeline ...Much of what we do to
a fully focussed way elevates, if you define space is really to affect time.
like, your experience of it.
Tamiko Thiel:
So with games, its nice to lose yourself
in the adrenaline rush but it can be a I agree with Steve: we control space
different thing when encountering a and use it to negotiate time with the
work of art, whatever the media. user. The user in turn has the
James Turrell says 'I want to address responsibility of actively investing their
the light that we see in dreams and time in negotiating the space that we
make spaces that seem to come from have provided for them. In doing so
those dreams.' Its interesting that they "create" their own narrative -
before white explorers came, many because narrative is basically events
South Sea islanders had no sense of happening in time.
time, the idea of time that westerners
have, or as Janice Joplin once said 'Its I like to think of what we do in terms of
all one big day baby'. "choreographing" the user's
experience: we set up structures of
With 3D digital art - what are your space and embellish them with
expectations of it? Or, what kind of constraints (no you can't walk through
person are you? I'm all for slow art, but the walls; try the door instead, etc.)
I like a quick fix occasionally. and lures (if you've already seen
everything in here, how about
checking out this new little thing I
make appear outside? etc.) in order to
shape the possible experience that the
‡ the art and aura of 3D
user can have in that virtual space.
The user still has to execute the
Roya Jakoby:
movements themselves, but within the
"physical" and dramatic structure that
How can digital artists tell stories
we have created in order to SHAPE
without words? Should they? Is it
their experience.
So unlike in classical music we are not
Steve Guynup:
controlling time - in an interactive work
we actually do NOT usually want to
I've always thought that moving
force the user to proceed at a certain
through space created a narrative. (the
rate, because when we remove their
term narrative is used loosely)
ability to actively shape their own
experience we remove a large part of
So what about us - do we control time
their engagement with the piece.
and space? Well, space I do believe
we as builders completely control.
But we ARE setting up structures that

form a framework in which the user's "lure". In this sense, would it be
own engagement should produce a appropriate to call colour a component
dramatic experience. No user of time?
engagement: no experience. No
framework: no drama. Melinda Rackham:

Creating an interactive artwork means … yes it is a continuum .. colour sound

creating a framework. Creating a space time.. don't exist in separate
narrative in this context means starting axes.. or dimensions. If we work in 3D
somewhere, ending somewhere and space then colour has a value in x, y
arranging the events that happen in and z axes. They are all points and as
between. We can perceive events out points are never really fixed, but have
of time but to "make sense" of them vectors emanating from them on each
we seem to be hard-wired to create axis, so each colour, or space/ time
narratives, i.e. descriptions of events slice, or whatever is part of the other
in time with the implication - not dimensions.
necessarily desired, but hard to avoid -
of cause and effect. Steve Guynup:

Grégoire Zabe: As for constructs of game theory and

scripted space, both apply - but
I think in a certain way WE (the one sometimes they leave me with an
who create the interactive work AND uneasy feeling that I am simply
the spectator) are "modelling" time... building a maze and treating the visitor
as a mouse moving through it. All for
Of course not like the editor of movies the purpose of my conceptual cheese.
do. We are sharing time with users,
trying to imagine speed , paths and Melinda Rackham:
events, and then giving the freedom of
imaging and using all the other You are the maze builder.... but any
possible times. Users are modelling artist does that.. a painter knows which
time of works. In this axis the way to move your eye across a canvas
relationship between creator and user with colour texture and rhythm.. they
is really interesting. The dimension of might do it "intuitively" but they are
a shared and de-localised space is for using a programming language when
me an important part of web3D. We they construct a painting..
can access and act on it at any
time/everywhere you can find a You as artist are also sometimes the
computer and a connection. The user in your own world.. and the user
spectator can 'perturbate', make is never free, they may have lots and
varying and let a trace of presence/ lots and lots of choices.. as we exist in
absence in work. I often ask myself computer constructed space, in fact in
which platform or system are able to all space one could suggest, in a finity.
receive collective works... I think
web3D is one of those... I like to think about the structure of the
VRML language itself and notice the
Steve Guynup: values which get assigned to
everything. There is a geographic
"modelling" time... limit, a time limit, a processor limit, a
It's an interesting term as it implies pitch limit. You as author do set
something new to VR. Perhaps there gravity, do set collision, do set sensors
is a much deeper integration between and triggers, anchors, do set horizons,
objects/environments and time. do control what the user sees at a time
Something fundamental. Many works and distance by Billboarding and
shown (mine included) use colour as a LevelOfDetail, etc, so you do set the

physics of the world. It is probably 'less interactive' than the
modes discussed so far. Certainly
We make life worlds for avatars, so we if the audience is watching a projection
should be generous and inventive in of my computer screen as I play
our architecture as they deserve to the piece then they have no control
have a nice place to play. 3D space is over any aspect of it.
a co-operative thing, where we
simultaneously have all control and When logged in, or using it on the
none, and the spacing, regularity, web, the audience for my pieces
colour, etc make time.. make emotion, generally has more control over the
make corporeal experience. negotiation of the space rather than
the time. In other pieces they have
Steve Guynup: explicit control over both space and
time and nothing will happen without
I agree, but I was hoping to make a their input, in still other pieces they are
narrower point. Perhaps contrasting expected just to watch+listen as if it
the way we as web3D/vr developers were indeed a regular 'concert'.
influence and address narrative time
and those who do video games. I'm What I love about the medium is the
also leery of imposing a new set of fact that it can accommodate all of
symbolic values on a modality(s these modes. I've often referred to
/dimension(s) - Or of interchangeably VRML as 'the mother of all file
like "colour = time". It can work of formats', and I think its true that the
course. If it didn't we wouldn't have medium of Web3D could be called
written/oral language. But it does not 'the mother of all media' because it is
always work. capable of an enormous range of
The early Gibson Cyberspace
movement failed partly because it Steve Guynup:
didn't understand the conflict between
spatial data (shading & perspective) & Still, I think music really opens up
abstract graphical data (as seen in possibilities of collaboration (musician
charts & graphs). Second the issue of to musician / musician to audience)
time and narrative infinitely ups the that have never been done before.
level of complexity from merely looking Even though everything in a world is
good from the front, left or right. constructed by you. Even the users
Combining the two is maybe not ability to produce content (even music
impossible - but hasn't been done yet. is up to you. What notes can be
played, What volume etc...)
Adam Nash:
So regardless of where they are in the
Indeed it’s true. When I use Web3D as world, they are looking at your
a performance medium (either MU- creation. You control this. You control
style where the performers are "what" they look at. They control
performing the space itself, or single- "when" they look at it and this builds
user 'active' where I will play the space into what "order". Or when they play it,
à la musical instrument to an what "order" ; )
audience watching and listening to a
projection, or single-user 'passive' Barrie Collins:
where the user accesses it on the
web) it has slightly different What I am interested in is the idea that
inflections to those already noted. It a software object can produce sound
becomes probably much more and image variations when interacted
analogous to music, because the time with. It also becomes more interesting
is quite strictly controlled by the artist. if the object is complex enough in its

behaviour to produce large mountains. Not in that ideal of
variability in sound and image display, transparency that characterize 80's (a
such that it seems to be alive or direct and frontal transparency ) but in
volitional. To imitate nature, make making the effort to discover "what is
things like leaves, insects, animals and behind", giving time to think about
attach sounds to them is an obvious what we are going to see, to hybridise
course to take but to invent new times and imaginations.
associations of form/object/scene with
sound or vice versa is another, or an Perhaps this is one definition of
obvious challenge with interactive "media". Relay with delay between
screen art. humans. And in this direction,
landscape, urbanity, and art are one.
Sound can be very physical, as in a
Buddhist chant, the sound is made Christina McPhee:
deep in the chest in order to stimulate
the heart. And with rock concerts, the I think this is the reason I got into net
base from the speakers really art in the first place, it is because of
physically rocks your body. Silence dreaming up what's 'behind' the
can also be very disturbing and screen, 'below' the screen...that's just
evocative - in space, they can't hear what moves the whole thing, like to be
you scream. able to move imaginatively through
semi transparent layers, through
Alan Sondheim: meanings and motifs that are only
partly clear, and remain mysterious
This would of course depend on the and gestural, leading you on like
definition of 'sound.' There are Cocteau's torches in the long hallway
arguments that tone or colour, for as Beauty enters the castle of the
example, depend on perception. Beast....
Certainly, there are vibrations, but
sound might be of another colour. Melinda Rackham:

Is it music if it's unheard? Is it beautiful Yes, perhaps this is why we are all
music if it's unheard? The here.. it’s wanting to delve into one or
phenomenology depends on the several of those other dimensions, to
definition of these words, and make artifice.. to birth other lifeworlds..
their coupling to the observer.
re: the walking in the mountains.. I
Grégoire Zabe: think I have said before that my best
VRML experiences are always when I
I just came back from a hike in am snorkelling, the closest I get to
Vosgian Mountains in east of France. immersive VR down there with the little
And I couldn't refrain me from thinking fish. Electronic-nature, or nature-
about this. One of the problems with nature seem to be all the same thing
web - and especially web3D - art, is to really.. the hum of the water is
become captive (in French that word is soothing just like a hard drive... you
a synonym of fascinated...) of the are alone in you own envelope of soft
strong "aura" of screens. squishy watery space and really alone
even if others are there just like you
That trip in the mountains makes me VRML... carried along by the ebbs and
think we are not so far from landscape flows, bathing in the sunlight of the
architects. We have to install a datastream.
globality, and then we have to think
about human perception of it. Perhaps
also we want to "see what is behind",
like when you walk and pass through

Electronic works have all of these.
Alan Sondheim: They do generate their own charge,
rhythm, glow, hype, uniqueness,
The nearest I've come is hiking value. The users are also uniquely
through the Everglades - as a friend generating a vibration or rhythm within
put it, you're in 'the zone.' And the them. Every user’s keystroke or
dangers (snakes, alligators, poisonous mouse rhythm is like a digital
plants, etc.) are obviously real. But the signature. Even as a list we have
state of consciousness is, again, tacit; created our own flow and fluctuation
it's a form of heightened navigation in this month so far. Generated our own
which you lose a certain degree of life world data breath.
volition. Situationist derive comes to
mind as well. Simon Biggs:

Many on-line spaces, it seems to me, Benjamin's notion of the aura was long
involve moving in and out of this state ago shown to be not a function of the
as requirements and controls change. object but of its cultural relations and
In some of the VRML readers I've how these bear on the expectations
used, I've "lost" the object or and perceptions of the viewer/reader.
landscape for example, and have had Reading Benjamin now you can see
to locate it, recentering or otherwise. that this was likely what he himself
was trying to arrive at; but at that point
Ayoub Sarouphim: the relativist cultural theory required to
come to that position was not yet in
This thread brings me to my area of place.
interest. It involves covering ways of
generating 3D environments fed by The aura is projected onto the object
real-time data. Starting with a defined by the viewer, not the other way
concept, I find it interesting to let around; a bit like those early theories
worlds generate themselves with which had light and vision emanating
minimum intervention from my part . from the eye, contrasting with current
Lots of sensors are out there, Teleo theories which have external light
with Max/Msp jitter might be a good sources emanating light which is
choice. Parsing updatable data from reflected off the object of vision to the
the Internet is another option...choices eye (I often prefer the vagaries of the
are out there, and just as we are living early theories).
organisms reacting to environmental
changes, so could be the virtual Roya Jakoby:
environments we create...
The tradition of museum's and gallery
Roya Jakoby: culture as we know it today is founded
in the exhibition of objects which were
Real time objects have aura. What taken away from the various imperial
about virtual objects? colonies. Most of these objects had
originally spiritual (cultural) meaning -
Melinda Rackham: I like to call this cultural meaning aura,
because it is far more meaningful than
How do you define aura, the invisible 'value' in this particular context. The
thing outside the skin of a human or objects usually lost their 'aura' when
object? Is it a material property? Is it they were exhibited outside the culture
a vibrational effect? or an electrical that originally produced it. The only
charge? Is it associated with thing that was left of it was some
commodity value, e.g. the aura of abstract notion of value for the
wealth? exhibitors and those who viewed it.
Museums try to restore the original

aura of objects constantly, they do this product of this final stage of
by various means, one of the methods is in the remit of the
is to add subjective and monetary reader, not the writer, to add this final
value to the objects. layer of value to the work.

Simon Biggs: Melinda Rackham:

Aura is projected by the viewer onto Pesce (co inventor of VRML with Tony
the object and that it is a culturally Parisi), used to say that writing VRML
determined (and thus contingent) was like being was magical
system of value. It doesn't matter what and invocational…and we all
the origins of that value is, whether snickered…but when we as users
religious, ideological or aesthetic. It is inhabit those worlds we are in a sense
also possible, even common, for inside a living pulsing organism..,
objects existing within one culture and bathing in its data flow, responding to
then shifted to another to still have an its gravity. It might be computer
aura, but an aura determined generated but hey isn’t our body just a
according to different values. Thus we vast amalgam of hardware colonies
see the object change its value and that runs materially embedded
meaning. software programs allowing us to
interface with the world outside our
Roya Jakoby: skin.

I'm not quite sure what aura means This brings me to the question of are
myself. Sometimes you encounter 3D environments only alive when a
something and it feels like it has a very user is in them? Do they have inherent
strong presence. So maybe it's better qualities and fixed meanings, or is it
to call aura the atmosphere or like an elemental particle that can fit
presence of something. I personally many different combinations? Do they
prefer the word presence. You know it become like a recessive gene when
when you see it/experience it. Sure, sitting on the server waiting for human
there is also the physicality aspect presence to activate them.? Is it the
(electro-magnetism) of all things, but passivity of the space (or the potential
that alone doesn't create a strong of the void) waiting for (hu)man to give
presence. It is an emotional, it life?
somewhat transcendent quality
inherent in a being, an object, a piece Sue Thomas:
of art (no matter what medium). Some
people call it also the energy of Melinda assumes that there are only
something orcharisma. two entities in the equation - the 3D
environment and the human. But is
Digital art facts have of course that correct? Perhaps other things can
presence. Some have more of it, some act within the environment, nonhuman
have less. There are various things, datathings, manifestations.
parameters that determine such a
presence, or the lack of it. I'm And perhaps those datathings could
interested in those parameters. be linked to Roya's question - do
virtual objects have aura? In so far as
Simon Biggs: flesh objects have electromagnetic
fields etc, perhaps virtual objects have
The aura is an article of faith, as these that equivalent as well, and perhaps
things often are. As Derrida points out, that 'aura' is the datathing I refer to
any text is only completely written above.
when it has been read. Interpretation
is half the writing process. Aura is a I guess what I am getting at in this

rather clunky and uninformed way is
that the debate above seems to put Alan Sondheim:
the human at the centre as the most
active and controlling entity. Perhaps Just wanted to disagree with the
this is a natural result of programmers notion of our body amalgam. For one
/ builders conversing, but I prefer to thing - the hardware is the software is
think that we have not built and we do the wetware is the mindware - for
not control every single thing in a another there's no "x running y" - for
virtual environment, but that we are another the "the world outside our
simply seeding something which will skin" is also inside - interiors are highly
itself evolve and mutate. problematic, given the nature of tacit
knowledge and prostheses - and for
Regina Célia Pinto: another - I'm not sure what "hardware
colonies" are - unless you're
Well, would it not be just the definition referencing something like Minsky's
of virtuality, the power of become? Do society of mind -
only 3D environments have this
property? Are the characters of "Le Finally - inhabitation occurs across all
rouge et le noir" alive in spite of sorts of worlds, including that of the
‘nobody’ to be reading the book? Or novel - which in an odd way is a lot
worse than that: even though nobody more generative since words are only
had read this Stendhal's book? catalytic in the visual - 3D
environments are not alive in any
Melinda Rackham: case. Human interaction does give
them life for that matter, any more than
One of the things I love about the rollerblades "come to life" when
VRML programming language is that it someone's out skating. It's a matter of
never assumes whatever is interacting function and reception.
with it is human.. e.g. in the
specification on VRML the user can be Melinda Rackham:
"3.108 user -A person or agent who It’s the problem of definitions. Where
uses and interacts with VRML files by do we split things up? I go to
means of a browser." many talks where "leading scholars"
This led me to consider VRML worlds happily talk about the real and the
as worlds, and avatars to be alive virtual like they exist in different
in the sense that they have unique universes. I get annoyed at that. But,
relationships with users. then when I am trying to explain things
its hard to say "well we are all just one
and r.e.: the power to become is big blob and there is no
perfect ... the more eastern differentiation." I am you am
philosophic understanding of the void everything. I agree that we don't end
is that it is pure potential. Virtuality at the skin (that’s a very Haraway
and 3D still have moral implications in Cyborgian construct isn’t it!) but it’s a
eastern philosophic systems like very practical soft and permeable
Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and boundary to use. How would you
maybe Hinduism, as they do in the differentiate human in interaction with
west (inferior, pretending, almost as technology?
good as, almost virtuous, ) but it is
reversed. In eastern thought material Alan Sondheim:
Reality is a false and deceitful thing
and the only true reality is virtual I wouldn't. I'd differentiate among
reality i.e. that place we go to in origins, those in relation to tissue, and
meditation or trance. those not. But not even that. We're

prosthetic from the origin itself. Culture travel there, so the viewership is,
and language are already prostheses. again, limited. Which of course doesn't
make it a failure.
‡ metaphysics and technicalities
Grégoire Zabe:
Jim Andrews:
But we also have to remember that we
are in the art of illusion. That is quite
Being able to see things from more
important in the fact that the position of
than one perspective.
user is sensibly different in 3D than in
Becoming aware.
a "real" space... that 3rd eye is getting
Being able to see things from a new
all his importance in that condition.
point of view outside oneself.
The 3rd eye.
Adam Nash:
This is surely important to the
attraction to 3D?
To me, all and any technology used for
art is fundamentally in the service of
It's the metaphysical space that offers
the metaphysical expression. Memory
the possibility of new perspective. Art
Plains Returning is a personal
is invisible. 'Perspective' in a mainly
reflection on a very painful journey I
figurative rather than literal sense.
took over a number of years, and in its
Whatever literal perspective we see
expression I hope as artist to tap into
from, we lack a new figurative
some commonality of experience
perspective unless it is new in our
amongst beholders - in this sense
metaphysical space. The 3rd eye is
Web3D is no different from any other
invisible, is figurative, sees the
tool used in art, be it words or paint or
metaphysical space.
photo-sensitive chemicals. But I do
want to stress that, as much as I love
It's exciting to see VRML works like
Web3D as a medium, I don't think that
Empyrean creating a metaphysical
the (literal) multiple viewpoints
space rather than a poor imitation of a
available menu-style to a Web3D
physical one. And certainly, given
beholder are anything other than a
contemporary homestyle computers a
linear series of single point perspective
relatively low polygon count is
views very analogous to edits in
important to a relatively large
cinema. It's very telling that in many
audience, for them to be able to
(but not all) 3D authoring programs
experience the work with some fluidity,
these viewpoints are called cameras.
which I find an important factor in the
You will never transcend the confines
of the Cartesian perspective quite
simply because the rendering
I have heard at least one
paradigm of the software itself has
pronouncement of the "failure" and
been built from the ground up to
"death" of VRML, but it seemed rather
strictly conform to those rules.
premature to me. I have seen some
fine work in VRML. I haven't seen any
Steve Guynup:
good VRML work that tried to create
an imitation of a "real" space-- it
I look at the VRML works produced
seems important to explore
today and see no difference to those
metaphysical spaces, or as in some
made years ago, e.g. Maurice
work I've seen, literary spaces etc.
Clifford’s 7 year old project The Aleph.
In terms of art this is not a fair
Also, just because a technology has a
question. In terms of design it is
relatively limited audience doesn't
mean it's dead. If one wants to see the
Mona Lisa or whatever work in a
We do not seem to be making real
gallery one cares to name, you have to
progress. Only the technology is

better. Deep questions of navigation, making the most out of the things I
interaction, & presentation are know and the tools I have.
unresolved. Frankly, has anyone ever
seen a good study done of the web3D Regina Célia Pinto:
works produced in the past seven
years? Something that looks beyond a To do a 3D work what is necessary is
single person and tries to compare to have the feeling of 3D. If one have
and understand the vast array of work knowledge of Perspective and
that's been done? Descriptive Geometry it will be easier
to create 3D forms.
It is interesting to say that we are not
The reality of the building doesn't creating 3D. We are not able to do
consist in the four walls and roof but sculptures as Michelangelo did, with
in the space within to be lived. software, I think. *Régis Debray wrote
that all image is a lie.* What we are
Roya Jakoby: doing are only simulations of 3D, as
photography and some paintings - lies
I'm part of the show but I can't view too . Turning to the beginning of the
most of the works of my fellow last century when we had lots of Art
participants because I neither have a Movements which rejected perspective
PC, not mentioning the resources and and launch abstract as Art because of
all those exotic plug-ins I'm required to the invention of the photography. It
install (if I would have a PC). I sounds like a good issue to be
personally find all these requirements investigated. Are we going back to the
for viewing very irritating and past - before the invention of
annoying. I personally prefer work that photography?
is accessible for the broader public
and simple in its technical and I think the important question is how to
ideological requirements. Where would use "3D" to do works nowadays. What
all those 3D sculptures and are the new ways to discover and
landscapes take me if I could visit follow? The ambience of electronic
them all? games is very interesting but is it really
art? What is Art? What is the Art we
I surely don't question the need for art are interested to do? It can include the
and in particular for digital and for 3D return to the past...
art. After all I am an artist myself. But
as an artist I feel kind of frustrated not John Klima:
to be able to access various works,
due to technical and financial Something I frequently find when
limitations in equipment. I would love presenting work to a broader audience
to experience all those 'big is the reaction that it’s "all about the
landscapes', but right now I just can't. tech." If that were truly so, we would
be here engaged in a discussion about
I believe that creating ones own world how to better render water droplets,
and vision is a good step towards and techniques to get more angels
good art. Never mind the tools/media dancing on the heads of pins.
you are using in order to get there. I'm
in love with digital, in particular with What we all love about this medium is
the web. The web has always been precisely that it *does* raise many
good to me. My work is technically many questions that have little to do
simple, though it has its technical with its implementation. That is what
limitations, too. I would like to do all good art does, from cave paintings
something technically more complex to CAVE environments
one day, but for now I feel okay with

something that you learned so long
ago and so comprehensively that you
Alan Sondheim no longer need to consciously think
about it as you do it?
But a question here - when we're
talking 3D in all of these cases, we're One of the major reasons why I have
not talking about 3D environments - stuck with VRML (and will be sticking
we're talking about flat display and 3D with X3D, which really is VRML3) is
-> 2d projection. I think this makes an that it is an international standard, an
enormous difference - it's nowhere ISO. This means that the technology
near any sort of virtual reality or itself is not owned by any corporation,
realism, but is, in fact, the result of it is available to anybody. As much as I
mediating projecting apparati. Now respect and admire a lot of the work
why this matters, perhaps, is that there being done in Shockwave3D, I have
are always issues of navigation if the an inherent distrust of closed,
work is interactive - and most of these proprietary technologies, not only
I've found clumsy, not intuitive, and not because I'm worried that Macromedia
in any way orienting the body towards will suffer one of these currently
the experience, since there's a popular corporate collapses, or be
learning curve obviously with either bought by Microsoft who will then
mouse or joystick (sometimes shelve it, or whatever, but also
keyboard). Further, there are the usual because I simply don't want to depend
issues of commercialism - my old on a corporation for survival.
VRML 1 something doesn't run
anymore. How much is 3D work Steve Guynup:
software-dependent and corporate-
dependent for viewing? There are two actively supported
VRML plug-ins
Adam Nash: Cortona-

I'm interested in the properties of the cts/

medium itself, not how it relates to Contact-
'reality'. Obviously I'm interested in
how *people* relate to 'reality' and I d/index.html
prefer to use the medium for the they are not exactly interchangeable.
unique properties that it displays. Cortona has a Macintosh version (OS
9 & X) Contact is a little faster and
I'm not really interested in orienting the allows for more, well, flexibility in multi-
body towards the experience - the user sites. Cosmoplayer is dead.
body is sitting at a computer, so I don't Bought and buried by Computer
see why it should be any more of an Associates. (CAI got the technology in
issue than any other computer-based their buyout of Platinum. The twist is
art like Flash, or websites, or hyper- that Platinum had fired the people
fiction, or QuickTime movies or working on Cosmoplayer and had
anything. Certainly, if you don't know planned to release it as open-source.
how to navigate the work using either So when CAI got it, they got the
the keyboard or mouse, then yes you'll software and nobody to develop it.
have to learn, but isn't that like saying Enter Metacreations (formerly of
that a book is non-intuitive for Painter & Poser fame). Metacreations,
someone who doesn't know how to fearing Cosmoplayer would be open
read? It's a given. I wouldn't regard the sourced now by CAI, signed a deal
mouse or the keyboard as intuitive - with CAI: Forget Cosmoplayer and
they are highly specific and learned. support us. Metacreations hasn't done
But, really, what does 'intuitive' mean very well.)
anyway, surely it simply means

VRML is not hard, Shockwave3D is ok beholders to actually think they are
(and you like Macromedia products) If experiencing it, rather to provide a
you like programming maybe the deeper, more experiential, insight into
Unreal game engine. Atmospheres what it must have been like to
has been out for a couple of years and experience that reality? I ask this
is still in Beta. It was an older because I am very interested in
technology bought by Adobe just prior Web3D artists trying to develop an
to Macromedia releasing Director 8.5 appropriate vocabulary, rather than
(& Shockwave3D) one that is based on precedents
(usually cinematic or early-90s
My personal take is that it was just a hokum).
hedge by Adobe to blunt
Macromedia's foray in 3D. It’s not As an example, I love the idea of
being pushed because Shockwave3D 'immersion', but recently this word has
isn't doing particularly well either. Not taken on a very narrow definition that
because the technology is bad. (well, means the kind of Imax or CAVE type
Lingo is nutty) but because issues of environment that attempts an actual
design and construction of 3D are physical immersion, whereas (as much
difficult to resolve. Hence the large as I enjoy Imax movies) I find reading
number of failed/failing web3D a novel to be far more immersive.
technologies. Similarly, what is the verb that we use
for beholding a Web3D piece? The
Narvika Bovcon and Ales Vaupotic: verb 'seeing' is inadequate. Perhaps
'experiencing' is more appropriate. By
We would like to add a link to a paper identifying the qualities that set
that discusses the relationship Web3D apart from Flash and other 2D
between the space and time in tech's, perhaps we can start working
contemporary philosophy. This is the towards an appropriate vocabulary.
conceptual background behind our
VRML project VideoSpace. See Tamiko Thiel:
especially the chapter "The specificity
of the method (space and time)" that The full Beyond Manzanar piece is
finds the particular features of shown as a room installation, not as a
contemporary methodology of web3D piece, partially because I really
humanities in the shift of interest from want the "immersive" effect that comes
temporal to spatial relations. from having a life-sized image on a large screen. While the physical
02/bakhtinfoucault.htm "immersion" is less that in a CAVE or
We are convinced that it is of utmost HMD, I find the psychological/
importance to discuss these matters perceptual immersion that this format
today, especially because there is still produces to be substantial, as the
so much non-acceptance and poor kinaesthetic sense of the body reacts
understanding of this field of to the life-scale image in a way that it
contemporary art. doesn't to an image on a desk monitor.
I believe the type of immersion of
Adam Nash: attention that you speak about when
reading a book comes only from
Tamiko would you feel like elucidating compelling subject matter and/or
what properties you feel that 3D brings presentation, and is independent of
to the work? Whilst I've only seen the the medium itself. So perhaps we can
web version of your piece, I imagine talk about:
it’s the difference between 'experience' - full physical/perceptual immersion,
and 'being told'? Whilst I note that you where you can't see anything else,
use the term 'virtual reality', I don't - perceptual/kinaesthetic engagement,
imagine that your aim is for the where you can see the rest of the

environment but the virtual image still yes, I'd call it immersive) looking at a
affects your kinaesthetic senses, 160x120 QuickTime window on my
- and a compelling artwork that holds computer monitor, and have also been
your attention, as being 3 different completely bored in an iMax theatre.
meanings that people use for the word When I think back on a novel I have
"immersion." read, I don't think of the physical
situation I was in whilst reading (aside:
I do specifically use the word reading is interesting because the
"experiential" for the sort of interactive, beholding of a novel often takes place
navigable 3D VR that Beyond over temporally and spatially disparate
Manzanar is, and think that situations), I enter the world in which
"experiential virtual environments" is a the novel takes place. That, to me, is
good term to distinguish these non- true immersion. Equally, when I
competitive works from games such as remember the web excerpt of Beyond
Myst and its follow-ons, whose main Manzanar, I am completely immersed
point is the solving of a puzzle even within the environment of the prison
though the process of solving the camp itself - my computer monitor on
puzzle requires you to go use an my desk in my studio simply is not part
experiential technique. of the memory.

It was very important to me to There are two major negatives for me

implement Beyond Manzanar in with the term Virtual Reality. One, until
interactive 3D because I wanted the 'The Other 3 Senses' are virtualised, it
user to develop their own personal needs to be called 'Virtual 2/5ths of
relationship to the barracks, the Reality'. Two, the sheer amount of
barbed-wire fence, the landscape of physical and financial hassle required
Manzanar rather than think of it as the to mount physically immersive
backdrop for someone else's story. I environments. This is not to say that I
believe that this sense of "being there" have anything against such
is the experience that interactive 3D or environments just that they don't
virtual reality can provide that other appeal to my work method, which,
media cannot. being a performer and musician, is
much more akin to using Web3D as if
Adam Nash: it were music, i.e., conceive of it, write
it, perform it, keep it in the repertoire,
I think you're right that the body reacts move on to the next one. I like the idea
to a large image, but I still feel that it is of it being non-site specific and able to
the content of the artwork itself that be beheld in a variety of situations, be
defines whether the *experience* it in someone's home, projected in a
itself is an immersive one, a lasting gallery, or at a live gig a la live music -
one, a memory which transcends the which is something I'll be doing a lot
physical situation of the beholding. more of now that I've built up a big
enough repertoire of pieces to make
Do you mean to suggest, then, that a up a good length 'set'.
piece that lacks compelling subject
matter will become compelling when Tamiko Thiel:
presented in a physically immersive
environment? Certainly these Beyond Manzanar was actually
distinctions of immersive type originally planned as an on-line multi-
experience are true when used to user piece, but I realized quite soon
describe a physical situation, but I that having other avatars in the space
don't think that 'immersion' is achieved mostly pulls your attention away from
through any other means than the the rest of the content. Since I wanted
compelling artwork itself. I've had truly the piece to be a contemplative
moving, memorable experiences (and experience between you and the

landscape, I decided it was better to physical space quickly falls apart. In
make it an offline, solo, immersive the version of VNet that I have been
experience rather than on-line and using, switching to OOBE mode ("Out
shared. Of Body Experience", i.e., one can see
one's own avatar from an objective
I think to make a successful multi-user perspective) causes some very
work you really need to understand interesting effects. Sure, you are
what "added value" is provided by looking at your representation in
other users in the space, and orient space, but if you move around whilst in
your piece towards this. In the best of this mode, your avatar does not,
circumstances the other users are an begging the question of which one is
enrichment; all too often they are an you - the avatar designated as you or
annoying distraction, because they are the position from which you are
there with some other agenda. looking at the space? There are many
other capabilities that in physical
Adam Nash: space would be considered anomalies,
but to me they all point to the
This is true of works that are conclusion that the virtual 3D space
conceived as single-user, and most art isn't really very similar to physical 3D
whether virtual or not, is indeed single- space, and this is a very freeing
user, even if it takes place in front of a realisation from a performative point of
room full of people. As for on-line 3D view.
works designed for multi-user, most of
these until now have really been chat In the multi-user version of Memory
rooms with 3D graphics added on. In Plains Returning, that we performed
this case, the multi-user aspect is during Lab3D, the avatars “become”
crucial but it is the 3D itself that is of the space, or at least their visual and
questionable use. sonic manifestation is so large that
they seem to. The most common
I'm interested in the multi-user space comment offered by audience
as a live performance medium - whilst members logging in at the start was
this is obviously not a new idea, not that they couldn't see anything. This
very much work has been done in that was the equivalent of an empty stage
area. Something I quickly found to be or a silent concert hall. The action
problematic was the avatar-as-human doesn't start till the performers do. I
idea. Trying to treat the space as if it conducted the performers, whose
were a regular physical space in which avatars were made up of different
bodies perform introduces massive sections of the piece, to change the
problems of two major types. First the visual appearance at my command. In
time and effort required on the this way, they are not really avatars in
modelling and animation (with its the conventional sense at all, even
attendant problem of large filesize), though it is true that they represent the
and second the audience expectation. performers in that if the performer
It seemed natural to remove these logged out, the avatar would not be
problems completely, and use the there. It was a highly structured
space for its strengths rather than performance with little room for the
weaknesses. When trying to emulate performers to improvise.
physical space, the lack of gravity and
economy of geometry is a weakness, The piece was also being projected
but when the piece is abstract these onto a screen for the benefit of a live,
qualities can be used as part of the physically present audience in Folly,
performance. and at Cornerhouse. This situation has
some good and bad points. For the
It also leads to the questioning of what good, at Folly (from where I was
an avatar is. Again, analogy with logged in), I was 'presenting' the live

MOO performance which offered some
difficult concepts for those new to the
form and as a result we were able to
have a very interesting discussion
about the nature of the performance
and the space itself. I think this
medium, particularly in these early
stages, can only benefit from its 'inner
workings' being exposed to the
audience, as the philosophy behind
the performance has so much to do
with those inner workings. I don't
believe in the myth of 'suspension of
disbelief' and I think the audience
need to be included in the
performance for it to be satisfying for
them. Ideally we'll reach a stage when
the audience already know what to do
when they log in, but for the moment
we will have to contend with a bit of

The on-line audience did seem quite

content to sit back and enjoy the
composition, and there were many
who put up with crashing and logging
back in again. This crashing seems to
be a combination of the flakiness of
VNet and the largish amount of
geometry. Some interesting temporal
effects were achieved by this re-
logging in, where some members of
the audience (and indeed the
performers themselves) were seeing
different things - again an 'anomaly'
that can be used within the
performance. All in all, what was
supposed to be a highly composed
and structured piece became quite
chaotic in the on-line performance,
and whilst I personally enjoyed that
very much it was confusing to some
audience members.

I think the 3D multi-user space offers a

huge potential for live performance,
and my current project "Scorched
Happiness" is an attempt to really
thoroughly investigate the medium's
properties and create a performance,
unique to it, that is as satisfying as a
live performance in any other medium.

Biographies: artists and curators

Simon Biggs
Simon Biggs was born in Australia, 1957, and moved to the UK in 1986. A visual and
inter-disciplinary artist, he places the computer and interactive systems at the centre
of a practice addressing issues around identity and reality as social constructs. His
work has been shown at a number of major venues in countries including Australia,
Austria, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland,
France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia,
Macao, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the USA. He is currently Professor of Research
at Sheffield Hallam University, UK and Research Fellow at Cambridge University,

Narvika Bovcon/Ales Vaupotic

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ales Vaupotic, born 1975, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Diploma in comparative
literature at University of Ljubljana. Since 2001 graduate student of comparative
literature at The Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana. Since 2002 graduate study of video and
new media at The Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana.
Exhibitions: 6th and 8th International Festival of Computer Arts, Maribor,
Slovenia. Aprilski susreti 2002, Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Biennale di Venezia,

Narvika Bovcon, born 1976, Nova Gorica, Slovenia. Diploma in graphic design at
University of Ljubljana. Since 2001 graduate student of video and new media at The
Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. Exhibitions: 6th and 8th International Festival of
Computer Arts, Maribor, Slovenia. Aprilski susreti 2002, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Biennale di Venezia, 2003. Kudos Gallery, Sidney, Australia, 2000. Awards:
Presernova nagrada, student award, 2000. Trnava International Poster Biennial, best
student work, 2001

Stephen Guynup
The Crystal Cabinet
Steve Guynup is a "blue collar" Web3D developer. His work has been presented at
SIGGRAPH's Web3D Round-Up in 1998, 99 & 2000, VRML99 & Web3D 2000,
Museums on the Web 2003, WebX and many other conferences. In the mid 1990's
he was a multimedia production artist who built multimillion dollar computer based
training software for Fortune 500 companies. Seeking to understand the underlying
philosophy that has been intuitively guiding his work, Steve has returned to
academia and is currently pursing a PhD in Communications, The Moving Image at
Georgia State University.

Kathy Rae Huffman

Director of Visual Arts at Cornerhouse, Manchester's leading centre for contemporary
art, media and cinema, she curated Lab3D and is collaborator with Web3D Art. She
was the director of Hull Time Based Arts, 2000-2002; Professor of Electronic Media
Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst, Troy, NY, 1998-2000; and a networker, writer and
freelance curator based in Austria from 1990-1998. She is a specialist for media art,
web based initiatives, and a curator who pioneered support of artists work centered
in media theory and practice. url

Roya Jakoby
Rise + Shine (splash)
Originally from Germany, Roya Jakoby is currently living between London and New
York, where she runs a small new media arts & design company called Sweetdesign.
Jakoby began working on-line in 1996, with a background based in writing, arts,
design & on-line community work. She has been involved in new media work for the
ZKM in Karlsruhe and for the Vitra Design Museum, as well as digital research and
exhibition projects for Cambridge University Museums, England.

Patrick Keller
Patrick Keller is an architect with a Masters in Computer Graphics and one of the
founders of fabric | ch, a collective of architects and computer scientists that engage
with experimental works (usually using digital medias) to formulate new states of
existence for the architectural artefact in this contemporary space, i.e. that can exists
on-line, in games, in new materiality’s -electromagnetic waves-, distributed and
variable, without physical materialities, etc.]. They define architecture as information
[of a situation, + or -] and our works exists in various contexts like installations, on-
line, in museums, for clients.

John Klima
Context Breeder
Brooklyn-based artist John Klima (b. 1965) attempted to code a 3D maze on a TRS-
80 with 4k RAM and failed miserably, but has been obsessed with 3D graphics ever
since. His work has been included in VIPER, EMAF and SIGGRAPH; and shown at
the ICC in Tokyo, and the 2002 Whitney Biennial. In 2002, he received a grant from
the Langlois Foundation for his project Terrain Machine. Klima's work consistently
connects the virtual to the real, addressing issues of remote responsibility, and
blurring the distinctions between the simulated and the concrete.

Michael Arnold Mages

Mutual Assured Deconstruction
University of Denver, USA.
Michael Arnold Mages is an artist, designer and composer. He currently teaches at
the University of Denver in the Electronic Media Arts Design program. His works deal
primarily with sound, economies of power, and perceptions of space. Michael is also
an -empyre- moderator.

Przemyslaw Moskal/Edward Tang

3D Sound Sculpture
New York University, USA.
Przemyslaw Moskal graduated with Masters of Professional Studies from the
Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York
University. Mr. Moskal is currently a multi-media freelancer and consultant for variety
of commercial and non-profit projects. He also creates interactive, digital art forms,
which are both screen based and installations. Mr. Moskal is a member on the board
of directors of New York Dance & Arts Innovations, where he also curates interactive
art exhibitions and creating digital content.

Edward Tang (BM, MPS) has a background in classical music performance and
digital audio and has worked as a freelance audio/music editor for broadcast and
new media in New York City. He has exhibited screen based and installation work in
galleries and shows in France, England, and New York City.

Adam Nash
Memory Plains Returning
Adam Nash is a programmer, composer and performer based in Melbourne,
Australia, currently undertaking a Masters at Centre for Animation and Interactive
Media at RMIT, researching 3D Multi-user Space as Performance Medium. He was
invited to exhibit at FILE 2003, Sao Paulo, and has performed in Australia, as well as
Singapore, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, with The Men Who Knew Too

Taylor Nuttall
Director of Folly; a Media Arts Organisation based in Lancaster UK, he has been
working as a new media artist exploring Internet technologies and virtual reality since
1995, showing work in VRML99 and 2000. Taylor has actively engaged in on-line
discussion and collaborations including moderating the vr-art mailing list. Taylor has
also helped to co-ordinate and judge the Eurographics Web3D Games competition.
Folly has been developing a number of on-line and new media initiatives including
Unencoded, Lancaster Film and New Media Festival, new commissions and
residencies. During Web3D Art 2002 Folly hosted a live on-line chat to coincide with
the ICA based exhibition. More recently Folly has been setting up a Linux based
media lab called the Kitchen and hosting net art projects as part of edit / copy / paste.
A new on-line monthly newsletter 'In The Kitchen' is about to be launched to promote
new media networking and activities in the North West, UK region.

Melentie Pandilovski
is the Director of the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, Australia. Born in
Macedonia, Melentie was the Director of the Contemporary Art Center in Skopje for
the last 4 years, and was the initiator and Director of the Skopje Electronic Arts Fair,
the first media art manifestation in the Balkans. He also curated SEAFair 2001. The
Experimental Art Foundation curates its exhibition program to represent new work
that expands current debates and ideas in contemporary visual art. The EAF
incorporates a gallery space, bookshop and artist’s studios. url:

Melinda Rackham
Melinda Rackham is a net.artist and writer based in Australia, who has been working
on-line since the mid 1990's constructing sensual hypertextual narratives and multi-
user 3D immersive environments, and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Virtual
Media. Her web works have been included in Art Entertainment Network, Beyond
Interface, EMAF, Cybercultures, The Montreal and Buenos Aries Biennials,
Transmediale, and ISEA. She received the Electronic Literature Prize at the Adelaide
Festival, and the SoundSpace Award for Virtual Worlds at Stuttgart Filmwinter.

Anthony Rowe
Ghosts (with by Gareth Bushell and James Lane)
squidsoup is a loose federation of artists, musicians and interactive designers based
in London. Their browser games, abstract virtual spaces, interactive music and
installations have been shown at dozens of international galleries, festivals and
events including ISEA (Nagoya 2002), SONAR (Barcelona, 2001), SIGGRAPH (LA

2001) and the ICA (London 2001,2002). Recognition includes an EMMA (Best On-
line Art 2000) and a BAFTA nomination (Interactive Art 2002).altzero5 :
commissioned by Cornerhouse with funding from Arts Council of England. Lab3D
marks the launch of the work as an installation and event.

Ayoub Sarouphim
World 1
University of California at Santa Barbara, USA/Lebanon
Ayoub Sarouphim (1974) 2001-present: University of California, Santa
Barbara-Media Arts and Technology program-Visual and Spatial Arts
emphasis.1994-2001: Bachelor of Architecture-Universite St Esprit, Kaslik-
LebanonWinter/Spring 2003: Teaching Assistant - Professor Marcos Novak, Spring/
Fall 2002: Research Assistant - Professor George Legrady, 2002: Summer Internship
at Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis, NY

Tamiko Thiel
Beyond Manzanar
Tamiko Thiel's first VR work was as creative director and producer of Starbright
World, an award-winning virtual playspace for seriously ill children commissioned by
Starbright Foundation chairman Steven Spielberg. Her VR piece Beyond Manzanar
addresses media scapegoating of immigrants groups seen as the "face of the
enemy" and is in the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Art. In
summer 2003 she will be in residency at the Kyoto Art Center on a Japan Foundation
fellowship researching her next piece, The Travels of Mariko Horo and in 2004 will be
a Fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies in Boston.

Grégoire Zabé (with Regis Albignac)

Inframonde - a participative landscape
Grégoire Zabé is a designer and artist, teaching at école supérieure des arts
décoratifs de Strasbourg. He is part of group of artists "ESP"
[] , travelling around "telepresence" thematics, and
worked with Eleanor Hellio, on some works "animachina, food him with network
flows" and "eleo" an autonomous puppet []. “Trans-portrait" a
recent work on figure and media, has been selected on Recently
Grégoire has been participating in the Norapolis conference with Fred Forest, Jules
Maeght and Olivier Auber about hybridation of design/art/Internet and about
economical issues of web art, and has presented "transports” at the "alternative
workshop" in Strasbourg.

empyre list contributors:
Christina McPhee
Jim Andrews
Tom Betts
Regina Célia Pinto
Jon Cates
Brett Stalbaum
Barrie Collins
Sue Thomas
Lloyd Sharp
Patrick Lichty
Alan Sondheim
Melinda Rackham

Lab3D List of works

Alterzo5, 2002/3
with sound by Icarus
Virtual space with sound objects
Commissioned by Cornerhouse with funding from the Arts Council of England.

Tamiko Thiel and Zara Houshmand

Beyond Manzanar, 2000
Interactive virtual reality installation

John Klima
Earth, 2001
Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York

Melinda Rackham
Empyrean, 2000/3
VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language)

Michael Pinsky
In Transit, 2002
Software developed in collaboration with V2 Institute for Unstable Media in

Feng Mengbo
Q4U, 2000/2
Interactive installation/performance in Quake

Web3D Art

Professor Karel Dudesek, Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication

and Kathy Rae Huffman, Cornerhouse, orgainsers.
Jury for the 2003 selection: Arghyro Paouri, multi-media artist, INRIA, France; Masaki
Fujihata, artist, and professor at the National University of Art and Music, Tokyo,
Japan; Tom Holley, Creative Director, The Media Centre Huddersfield, UK.

Special thanks to: Christian Bouville, Jaewook Shin, Adam Margerison, Deyan
Raykov, Martin Schmitz, Melentie Pandilovski, Taylor Nuttell, Lina Russell,
Tom Holley and Gill Howarth.

Web3D Art 2003 is authorised and supported by the Web3D Consortium, and
ACM. Funded by North West Arts, Arts Council of England, Association of
Greater Manchester Authorities, Manchester City Council, North West Vision.

Selections archived at:

Artists in 2003:
Michael Atavar (UK); Ricardo Barreto (Brazil); Stéphane Beugnet (Luxembourg);
Simon Biggs (UK); Narvika Bovcon/Ales Vaupotie (Slovenia); Daniel Fischer, Tamiko
Thiel and Peter Graf (Germany); Stephen Guynup (USA); Roya Jakoby (USA); Rufus
Kahler (UK); Yael Kanarek and Bnode (Judith Gieseler / Innes Yates) (USA);
Yasileois Karageorgos (UK); Patrick Keller -–Fabric | ch (Switzerland); John Klima
(USA); Matthew Lewis (USA); Michael Arnold Mages (USA); Przemyslaw Moskol
(USA); Adam Nash (Australia); Anthony Rowe, Gareth Bushell and James Lane
(UK); Ayoub Sarouphim (Lebanon/USA); Jaewook Shin (Korea) with Marcus Quarta,
George Tang, and Teng Chue Swee; Raphaël Vandendriessche (France); Jane
Veeder (USA); Grace Weir, Juiha Huuskonen (Ireland); Grégoire Zabé/Regis
Albignac (France).

57, August Issue, Page 35 (article by Adam Nash)

70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH
Tel: + 44 (0)161 228 7621

ISBN 0 948797 73 8

Cover image credit: squidsoup, Altzero 5, 2003

Commissioned by Cornerhouse with support from Arts Council, England.