[ISEA2011] Paper: Andrea Wollensak, Ozgur Izmirli & Bridget Baird – DEEP/PLACE: site-based immersive history


DEEP/PLACE is a site-based installation that features an expanded interactive audiovisual space consisting of diverse media elements. This multidisciplinary collaborative artwork merges materials from discrete domains—such as architecture, cultural geography and geology—in an immersive site-specific experience. Participants explore the multifaceted information by navigating a rich media landscape through intuitive gestures. The media landscape is represented by a system of interconnected nodes of site-based information that include spatial and geological information, archival blueprints and images, 3D models, and audio material. The system uses a gestural interface that allows a user to move between and within nodes, exploring the media landscape.

The gestural interface connects the graph of nodes both chronologically and thematically. Color threads dynamically guide the user between nodes, creating adaptive and dynamic place-based narratives. Using a wireless glove that senses flexing and position tracking, a gestural vocabulary creates a kinetic interaction, encouraging discovery and re-contextualization. In addition to an exploration of the virtual environment, the system allows the user to connect expressive gestures to an artistically generative component of the system, helping form a bridge between the virtual and the physical, between perception and action.

The specially designed technological infrastructure enables node interconnectivity to define possible narrative paths through the media landscape. These paths can be followed deep within the spatial context (including into geological foundations) and also the chronological one (through architecture and history). It is based on a 3D virtual environment into which the informational elements are interwoven. This collaborative project involves three core faculty (in Studio Art and Computer Science) as well as students within the Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology. Additional expertise in site-specific history, architecture, geology and geographical information systems was provided by affiliated faculty.

Our first realization of DEEP/PLACE features a chapel that was designed as a reflective gathering place for community building, with a rich history of performances and recordings. This installation presents its past in an interactive and deep experience encompassing culture and architecture. DEEP/PLACE is a flexible site-based installation that can be re-purposed for other historically rich sites, using relevant media and research inputs to the system.

  • Andrea Wollensak is an artist and a professor in the Department of Studio Art and Co-Associate Director of Events at the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College, USA. She teaches courses in design studies and digital processes and coordinates the Center’s colloquia lecture series and curates exhibitions. Wollensak’s creative research examines and redefines processes and technologies of location and landscape, mining the rich convergence of place, identity and history in site-specific and site-defined art works. Wollensak is currently working on a series of projects in Iceland working with seismic data and site narrative. Artist residencies and exhibitions include the Hafnarborg Museum, Iceland (2011), mapping sound artwork featured in the International Gothenburg Biennial in Sweden and sponsored by IASPIS (2007), GPS mapping and community-based site projects in Saint-Lô, France (2003), Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy (2000), Lorient, France (2000), and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada (1996).
  • Özgür Izmirli is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Director of the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College, CT, USA. The Ammerman Center brings together faculty and students via interdisciplinary projects and organizes an international biennial symposium for researchers and artists in the field of arts and technology. Özgür’s research interests are concentrated in models for music understanding, music information retrieval, digital signal processing related to music audio, music perception and cognition modeling, and multi-modal computer-user interfaces. He will be co-presenting the DEEP/PLACE project at ISEA.
  • Bridget Baird teaches courses in computer science and mathematics at Connecticut College and directs independent studies in arts and technology. Current and recent research projects include using archival and GIS information to create a site-based immersive historical installation; using motion capture to analyze dance movements; using digital techniques to mine historical documents; and using virtual reality and digital techniques to explore an archaeological site in Cochasquí, Ecuador. She attended Bryn Mawr College as an undergraduate and then received her Ph.D. in mathematics from SUNY at Buffalo. She plays an active part in Connecticut College’s interdisciplinary center in arts and technology and was the director for many years.

Full text (PDF) p. 175-179