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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

The Visitor: Living by Number
Luc Courchesne

“The Visitor: Living by Number“ has two main aspects: The first one applies to form in attempting to develop a practical solution for the creation and presentation of interactive and immersive programs. The second one applies to content in trying to forge a metaphor for the experience of space and of socialization. Overall, the project aims at creating a believable experience for visitors and offers an example for the debate on the esthetics of interaction.
„The Visitor: living by Number“ offers visitors a first person experience in a world which appears as a coherent time/space: the space is photo-realistic and continuous (except for the transitions using the virtual Panoscopes creating spacio-temporal shortcuts). The time is also continuous with believable daytime / night-time transitions.
The installation uses voice for input: A vocabulary of 12 words — numbers from one to twelve — is used by visitors to operate within this predetermined world. Following a marine convention, these numbers are placed as a clock s dial at the bottom edge of the dome in which visitors are standing. Visitors speak the number corresponding to a destination or to point at a person they wish to engage with. In the course of a conversation, they will use numbers in the same way to signify interest or disinterest in what is said or offered: the number corresponding to the character s position will encourage the conversation to develop in the same direction; another number will either produce a change in the course of the conversation, set a different mood, invite the character to accompany the visitor somewhere else or simply put an end to the encounter. The signification of each number is contextual but the principle of numbers as pointers remains consistent throughout the work. Voice recognition only works when the action stops and the soundscape turns silent.
The mention of Living by Number in the title gives a key for interacting with the work and points to the sort of interactive space and freedom a visitor can expect: living by number , as in painting by number , is not promising an experience rivaling the wealth of a real journey in a foreign culture such as Japan, but offers instead a metaphor for one. This is a strategy to circumvent the limitations of existing speech recognition solutions requiring no training, the only option I could consider in a public exhibition; it also helps to justify the limited set of possibilities offered by interactive video when compared with the flexibility of worlds generated in real time by 3D models.