Ars Electronica 2005
Festival-Website 2005
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Festival 1979-2007


The Ladder—A New Work in Mixed Reality

'John Gerrard John Gerrard

The Ladder is a new sculptural installation utilising technologies of mixed reality. In the installation space a diminutive virtual character can be seen, standing on a ladder and looking out of a high window onto the physical world. This character, in a state of some agitation, continually voices concerns as to the nature of this world, occasionally tracing shapes in the vista with his hands while attempting to describe the scene.

The work exists at the fault lines opening between traditional notions of presence and place, blending spatial, generative and augmented elements, both virtual and real together, into a work of contemporary art. The artist sees key possibilities within augmented or mixed reality in allowing cinematic type installations to move from the 2D plane and inhabit the gallery. Through these strategies media can be recontextualised as a sculptural form.

The work centers on questions of experience, the modes by which experiences are described and the parameters within which we can now experience the world. The central conceit of the virtual character, yearning for the natural, for the visible and for the tangible and making this need present through a series of unfolding behaviours, speaks of the position we find ourselves in at this time in history, where movements into the virtual domain problematises the role of the physical body and recontextualises older ideas of geography and terrain. We require technology in this work to answer our questions, to enable us to investigate the work, yet find that the technology creates further difficulties as it opens new possibilities.

Project Team
John Gerrard (IRL), Robert Praxmarer (AT), Werner Pötzelberger (AT), Erwin Reitböck (AT) + others.
The Ladder has received funding from the Irish Arts Council and is a co-production of the
Ars Electronica Futurelab, Austria, and Banff New Media Institute, Banff, Canada.