Ars Electronica 1996
Festival-Website 1996
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Festival 1979-2007


Hall of Shadows

'Luc Courchesne Luc Courchesne

Interactive theatre for four virtual beings and a live audience. Five networked Macintoshes running HyperCard use a Chat server and TCP/IP to distribute information through the system.

Curious friends gathered in a gallery space are being visited. As conversations develop between the two groups, some forms of complicity may be established that will face visitors with a difficult choice. To communicate with the virtual beings, visitors use a touch pad: questions are picked from imposed sets appearing on the virtual computer screen which is superimposed on the reflected video image of each character. The input from each of the 4 stations [virtual beings] triggers either a local event [a one-to-one conversation] or a general event [group interaction] depending on the context.

Level 1: The four virtual beings chat amongst themselves.

Level 2: Visitors may try to introduce themselves and to make friends.

Level 3: An inspired conversation launches a general debate. The two groups may argue over issues.

Level 4: The virtual beings’ existential crisis is revealed. Visitors face the choice of helping, or of abandoning them to their fate.

Visitor’s interaction thus goes from individual to collective, and from relatively unwanted at first to essential as the dramatic potential of the work builds up. The four virtual beings have been fabricated and stored on laserdiscs from the video recording of live actors in a studio. Large planes of glass reflect the projected image from the ceiling into the room, making the four characters appear as ghost within the space shared with visitors. In the process, several questions are brought forth: What is the foundation of humanity? What sort of politics is likely to dominate in the future? What is the nature of man/woman relationships? How does light affect behavior and the power to imagine? Overall, the installation questions the meaning and value of human life in the age of cyberculture.