Ars Electronica 2004
Festival-Website 2004
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Festival 1979-2007



' Lia Lia / 'Miguel Carvalhais Miguel Carvalhais

Having studied the characteristics of the building's facade, its surroundings and the technical facilities provided by the AEC and the Futurelab, we conceived a system on the building for the triple projection that is supported by a plethora of networked inputs rather than by direct interaction on location. We wanted to develop a piece that stands as a reflection of multiple inputs and the product of all of these, a facade piece that works as a hub of several experiences but that does not need to translate them literally into the projected output. Consequently we start with the far ends of the project, not what is displayed in the facade itself but rather with what and where the inputs are produced.
The Online Piece
An online shockwave piece is being published either on—or linked simultaneously from— the websites http://www.aec.at/seek and http://www.wofbot.org/seek. In this piece we develop in detail the root of the system that composes the facade, providing the same algorithmic base and links to the facade. We do not, however, recreate the facade’s output here, but instead allow everyone who loads the online piece to provide accumulating inputs for the facade.

The online piece is gathered around 15 autonomous elements that move independently on the screen. Each object reacts simultaneously to both the user interaction (mouse based) and each and every one of the other sprites in the same piece, using AI algorithms. The trails left by the sprites, the record over time and space of their movements, reactions and interactions among them gradually build up the visual experience provided by the piece, while the actions and reactions of the sprites generate the audio layer. Different controls over the speed and physical characteristics of the space mapped on screen, etc. are also available, either directly or through layers of indirect interaction. At any given moment, none, one or several users can load and experience this online piece. Whether any of them provide inputs for the AEC facade is determined then.
The Facade Piece
As with the online system, the facade piece is built up by a limited number of similar semiautonomous sprites, moving along the three projections as if these were a common ground, wrapped around the building. Unlike the online piece, there is no direct mouse driven interaction here, nor is there any sound, as the architectural surrounding of the building is not, in our view, an adequate place for this kind of set-up. However, there is a direct link to the online pieces experienced by the users, as these provide feedback that then directly influences the evolution of the facade piece.
links from the online pieces to the facade
At any moment, any of the several online users is selected by the system to provide input for the facade piece. When this happens, one or several of the objects in one particular piece changes color and starts feeding data to the facade piece, through a direct online connection to it. This is almost all of the information that is provided to the online users, letting them know that at that moment the pieces are connected. This can happen to one or more users at the same time and can happen more than once in each connection.

As soon as the pieces are no longer connected, all the objects revert back to black, still leaving their trails in space and time represented on the screen. This data is collected from one or more online users continuously, provided anyone is online, of course. Whenever by chance no one is online, the main piece in the facade naturally keeps evolving, still being fed by the data that was collected previously.
Use of the Links in the Facade Piece
The data collected is used much like the mouse interaction data is in the online piece. However, the piece does not scan for the continuous input of coordinates. Rather it gathers location data from the selected online objects, maps it and statistically collects it in “gravitational” points that interfere with the motion of the facade elements.
More, on Location
At the AEC we have a couple of machines available for the visitors, so that they can also intervene in the ongoing piece. Besides this simple point, a second installation can be added, and by setting up the same output from the facade in an inner room of the Center, we can (using three extra video projectors connected to the same computer providing the façade projection) fold the three screens of the facade into a single projection, where the same sprites evolve in a self-wrapping continuous space. This is a non-(directly-)interactive piece, much more of a self-running audiovisual presentation, based on the evolving pieces at the facade and all the online instances that cooperate towards developing it.