Uzume is named after a Japanese Shinto goddess and means “whirling.” The story of Uzume tells of her strange dance that lured the sun goddess Amaterasu out of the cave where she had hidden herself.
Immersed in Uzume, a sensitively responsive, dynamic environment surrounds the visitor, unfolding the communicative nature of a strange, virtual entity. To communicate with Uzume is similar to pursuing a dialogue without knowing the language of the other. Although the environment responds subtly to every movement of the participant, it evolves to some extent self-independently and challenges the user to explore its strange language code. Input and response become thus a dynamic interplay, creating a transformative mirror, in which users are able to discover their own selves, as well as the others’.
Uzume’s world is bound to the physical projection space of the CAVE. Its appearance is based on spatial representations of the temporal behavior of nonlinear chaotic systems, so called ‘Strange Attractors’. By physically moving around inside the projection space, participants affect the current state of their surrounding, traversing the attractors’ parametric fields. At the same time their presence subtly transforms Uzume’s medium, a viscous fluid-like force field, in which both the visitors and the whirling structures are embedded.
The virtual environment involves the aspects of presence, reflectivity, and otherness as they evolve in immersive, interactive environments. Its responsive—yet unpredictable—behavior unveils the ambiguous nature of computer controlled systems, in particular the illusion of control. Uzume unfolds its meaning in the performative element of the evolving dialogue between the temporary inhabitant and the virtual opposite.
Uzume was implemented at the CC Virtual Environments, IAO Fraunhofer Stuttgart, Germany.