Online Realities in 3D investigates online art projects which use three-dimensionality as a metaphor for designing and articulating the social and technical processes that take place in the 'data scape' (information bodies, data streams, data landscapes, etc.).
Research in this fields suggests that there is a definite need for critical debate. Many internet projects use the 3D-metaphor for building a spatial architecture where the user is placed in an interior space or between different houses, 'in a world'. Here the 3D-objects either symbolize the access to specific themes or contents (an entry hall and a concierge may signify an index and thematic overview, etc.), or they are used as a backdrop for chat-based multi-user systems. In these cases, the 3D-metaphor is conceptually unnecessary, and 2D-solutions are faster, simpler and easier to use.
The projects presented during DEAF98 deploy three-dimensionality not as a simple mirror of reality, but explore its potential meaning and usefulness beyond this 'mirror stage'. The projects do not offer conclusive answers on this issue, but provide starting points for discussion.
Programm5 (Nicole Martin, Lilian Jüchtern) (D): Staging Strategies
The project Staging Strategies focuses on designing a genuine formal language for the media of virtual reality. The basic element of a virtual world is dynamic information. Events, data. Everything is floating and moving. How do you visualize this in three-dimensional space? Which sensual experiences are lementary to a Virtual Reality? Dataworlds lack gravity: there is no Up and Down, no ground, no horizon. One move and everything is changing. How can I find my way in a Virtual Reality?
Staging Strategies researches the basic parameters constituting the 'gestalt' of a virtual reality.
Zoltán Szegedy-Maszák, Marton Fernezelyi (H): Demedusator
Demedusator is a shared virtual world shared by the visitors. This VRML-based world enables the inhabitants to create, possess, and adjust objects (photos, sounds, videos etc.) and to build up a common online environment. The uploaded files are appearing to the observers in form of encrypted sculptures. The original media which are represented by these sculptures can be decoded and viewed by touching the silent objects. The system of encryption creates an interface for the users to explore the world without having to download all the multimedia files. Demedusator is a container for building up a city-like world, a kind of encrypted 'Metaverse'.
Károly Tóth (H/NL): The Negative River
A co-operation of artists, writers and scientists who create a navigable organic environment, using the river as metaphor. The participants contribute documents and digital traces from their living environment which are used to build up an information database. From this database, a reconstruction of a new spatio-temporal structure, a Terra-a-Topia, is made in virtual space. The project is less concerned with the latest technical developments in hard- and software, than with the technologies of thought, imagination, intuition and perception. If information is accepted as one of the physical conditions of matter, then coginition has to be viewed as a fundamental basis, and the as mimetic engine, of our understanding and 'mapping' of the world. The virtual model of The Negative River incorporates a series of mutually influential data events that create a morphing, continuously transforming and interactive structure of thoughts and cognitive relations.
Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd (NL): vrmlSITE
An open online discussion environment in VRML featuring a live-debate between architects, designers and theorists. The discussion is open to the public who can log on as an audience-avatar into the VRML environment. vrmlSITE contains free-floating, characteristic elements of projects by the participants. Each participant is represented by an avatar which is not a person but a small 3D world in itself, so that participants and audience experience parallel 3D worlds talking to each other. The participants can trigger events - by clicking on words in the vrmlSITE - during the discussion.