Miroslaw Rogala sees every individual visit by a member of the audience to his interactive large-scale installation Lovers Leap as a short-lived and unexpected romance. Created in collaboration with Ford Oxaal and Ludger Hovestadt, curved images of Chicago presented in 360-degree composite views react to the visitor in between two opposing projection screens. When the viewer enters this space, his movements are translated into projected imagery and/or randomly appearing Jamaica sequences. Exactly how each person reacts depends upon the relationship the visitor wants to enter into. "Just as this happens in love," says Rogala.
Once, on his way from Chicago to Jamaica, Rogala ran into a place called 'Lovers Leap', "a legendary location of tragic lovers; such places exist all over the world". On his WWW homepage (www.mcs.net/~rogala/home.html) one of the screens shows a military radar installation. With its revolutions the radar was continiously tracking the skies over 'Lovers Leap'. The final design of his installation has little to do with this military site, but it served as a starting point for his creative train of thought. Rogala wanted to capture the atmosphere of the place and the turning piece of machinery gave him the idea how to do this. "Movement through space is a physical aspect," he thought. Rogala saw a similarity with the way people gain new insights: 'movement through perspective is a mental construct; one that mirrors other jumps and disjunctive associations within the thought process'. Through designing an installation he wanted to make these mental constructs visible. According to Rogala, the new, or perhaps tarnished, outlook on a relationship does not come slowly and steadily but rather like a shock. Translated in images: like hard cuts.
With this concept in mind, Rogala started to work. Images of a city (Chicago) appear on large video screens. An inversed-reversed perspective is utilized, exhibiting opposite views. Cameras determine the visitor's position, so that when he moves, the video images change accordingly. Other images, showing Jamaica, are immune to this controlling aspect. Rogala: "When the viewer enters the place, one becomes aware that one's movements or actions are changing the view but won't realize how. This means that the viewer is not really in control, but simply aware of their complicity. Control strategies assume either dominant of submissive roles. Power and strength depends on where we position ourselves within our environment. As the viewer's awareness of the control mechanisms grows, so does the viewer's power. Each viewer will create a new and different work depending on their involvement, understanding, and transformation into a position of power."
By moving about, the visitor, whom Rogala calls 'the lover', can get a grip on things. The artist refers to the level of perception. But when the visitor stands still, control over what is happening diminishes. New landscapes suddenly appear, the viewer being unable to do anything. Rogala: "When he relinquishes control, the more abstract associative and conceptual levels start influencing things. Many will leave without having claimed their power. That happens in matters of love as well."