Monday, March 22, 2010

the Cave = the Matrix

I had no idea what to expect when I entered the Cave on Friday afternoon. Right away, we were asked to take off our shoes, put on a pair of 3-D glasses, and stand inside a ten-foot cubicle (approximate size); high-resolution graphics were then projected onto three of the walls around us, as well as the floor, in order to create an immersive virtual reality world. A sound system provided audio feedback, which also helped sustain the multi-sensory experience (the sound clip of the man vomiting was particularly graphic/powerful). One user was the active viewer, controlling the stereo projection reference point, while the rest of the users were passive viewers. The active viewer explored the virtual world by moving around inside the cube with a wand-like device. Some works invited us to wander through real or imagined three-dimensional spaces -- for example, a train station. We moved through the train station lobby, as VR people/objects moved around us, signifying the passage through time and space. There were also text-based works that generated new reading experiences; text was no longer linear, no longer a sequence of characters – but rather a matrix of words and letters that swarmed around the Cave, enabling us to identify and organize the blocks of text in our own way.

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