Panel: Interactivity and Metaphors
Archeology of a Mother Tongue, a virtual reality installation, was a collaboration with Michael Mackenzie and was sponsored by the Banff Centre for the Arts as part of their Art and Virtual Environments seminar. It is an immersive interactive narrative piece. It combines interactive computer graphics, laser disc video and slides with interactive sound. The work sample is a compilation of short excerpts from the installation which takes approximately forty minutes to experience.
As a viewer you navigate the piece with a small plastic camera that allows you to ‘look’ around the spaces and a glove that allows you to start and stop and to touch objects. In the first segment, a dream sequence, touching an animated figure takes you through a path in the architecture which has a narrative segment attached to it. You are in the point of view of the Coroner, one of the two main characters. It is her dream – a memory forgotten in waking life – of being adopted as a child from the city to which she is returning to investigate the murder of a child. There are three environments. The first (the dream) is based on a Piranesi prison drawing, the second is a human rib cage that functions as the transport plane which brings the Coroner to the city. In this second environment orienting your virtual body in the space causes you to collide with invisible planes. These become cloud banks that trigger sections of narrative and bleed through memories of a child, the violinist, who has been murdered. The third environment is a copper wire hand. The hand is a short term memory construct built by the Pathologist, the other main character, who is overwhelmed by memory and can’t function in the present. The objects in the hand are memories – some are of forensic details of the autopsy of the child and tell the story of her life in the city. The skull, with its wire frame brain inside, is the Pathologist’s long-term memory. When you touch these objects they grow large and you enter them, moving around while you hear accompanying sections of narrative.
- Toni Dove (USA) is a performance/installation artist who works with electronic media. She developed a collaborative virtual reality world at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada) and completed a video installation for Times Square (New York). She is currently working on an interactive narrative laser disk installation that uses video motion sensing to engage viewers in a responsive environment.
Full text p.69-71