team: Antoine van de Ven, Artm Baguinski, Brigit Lichtenegger, Edwin van der Heide, Sonia Cillari, Stock

Screenshot of Genesis
Screenshot of Eden
Screenshot of Noa

V2_ was asked by the Erasmus MC to create an artwork for the opening of the new I-Space of their bioinformatics department. The I-Space is an immersive virtual reality environment like CAVE, which will serve as a facility for three-dimensional, interactive projections for genomics and proteomics data and clinical imaging techniques.

In a collaboration with digital architect Sonia Cillari and sound artist Edwin van der Heide a work was created that explores our perception in a condition of extended body dimensions and lack of control. GATC / life is an immersive experience inside unities of life. The liquid multi-colored breathing membrane (the 'inside') contains flocks of cells and smallest particles/molecules having disordered human-like noisy behaviors. Our presence and actions can influence their configurations and growth within the space and around/near us.

To get an impression of the project you can watch a movie recorded in the I-Space or another movie that was captured from my development machine. Yet another movie shows some funny I-Space moments.

In preparation of this project I organized together with Anne Nigten the seminar The Art Of Immersive Spaces. The seminar tried to get a grip on the mediated human experience in immersive environments. It wished to explore and discuss the issues concerning 'the body and the extended mind' in digital environments, and its applicability in Human Computer Interfaces. The speakers at the seminar were Anneke Smelik (Professor in Visual Culture), Marnix de Nijs (artist), Maurice Benayoun (artist) and Wijnand Ijsselsteijn (neuropsychologist). The seminar was moderated by Oliver Grau (new-media art historian). The combination of speakers proved to be incredibly interesting, and to those who are interested, I recommend reading the seminar's reader and the report written by CÚline Pourveur.

The I-Space at the Erasmus is driven by an Onyx4 UltimateVision, and has stereo glasses and a flightstick for navigation and interaction. Artm and me wrote GATC/life in C, using the SGI OpenGL Performer API. To handle user input, tracking, and stereo projections we used FreeVR, which is an open-source virtual reality interface/integration library. Stock worked with Edwin on a max object to generate spatial sound. This max object ran on a Mac G5 and received commands from the application via OSC. A speaker in each corner did the rest of the trick. All aspects of the application are entirely computer generated.

For me to work on this project was a dream come true! At last 'real' 3D instead of 3D graphics squashed on a 2D monitor. We sorta had to learn what worked and what didn't as we went along, since it was a first for everyone on the team. But, also thanx to Anton de Koning from the Erasmus who has been very kind and helpful to answer all our questions, the result was pretty amazing. As the project evolved it came to life in many aspects. Besides the concept being about the very building blocks that make up life, biblical terms entered our code, not to mention the striking resemblence of the environment with a certain human reproduction organ :-)

Me in I-Space
Me in I-Space Me in I-Space
Me in I-Space again
Scan from Artms notebook
Scan from Artms notebook
The technological aspects and freedom to do whatever we wanted were great ofcourse, but perhaps the best part was the team. I love Sonia's visuals and sense of space, and Edwins interest in using a CAVE environment to experiment with spatial sounds proved to be very effective. I have to admit that I was giving the visuals the highest priority, but now I can hardly imagine it without sound. Programming with Artm was pure fun! We kept eachother stimulated and focussed and I learned a lot. And noone has ever asked me something as poetic as "Could you rotate the world so that we can see the other side of the moon?" :-) (or told me I should be projected...)

As always the 3 months we got for the project was way too short, but I was simply having to much fun to get stressed! I hope I'll get another shot at this!