'Perceptual Arena' (1994) is an interactive installation by Ulrike Gabriel and Bob O'Kane.
Ulrike Gabriel and Bob O'Kane present Perceptual Arena, a piece that makes use of virtual reality techniques like the dataglove and the head mounted display (a small helmet with two mini monitors that show a 3d computer world). The work shows the complex interaction between the physical world of tangible objects and the virtual world generated by the computer.
As the participant dons the helmet and enters the 'arena', he enters an empty room. By moving through this 3D space, by using the glove, he builds a world of abstract shapes based on his movements. From the empty virtual world to a complex one, filled with shapes and objects in the computer and displayed through the helmet. Using the glove, the participant can manipulate and knead the objects like clay.
The participant is surrounded by two large 3x4 meter screens that display the world he generates for the rest of the audience to see. It is a theatrical situation wherein the virtual and the physical space are connected.
Perceptual Arena was made possible through the support of Silicon Graphics B.V. who supplied an ONYX computer. The work was realized in cooperation with the Tokyo ART LAB and the Frankfurt Institut für Neue Medien.