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"Trails #1 #2" was just added to the Rhizome.org ArtBase (judged by Rhizome to have "potential historical significance") and is currently exhibiting in the "Fresh Art" section at Rhizome.org. Click here to see the entry.

This work is also being featured over at Neural Magazine's website. (1/14/04) Click here to see the article.

Trails #1 & #2

A common paradigm in the new media genre are pieces that reflect some aspect of the viewer's visual appearance - virtual "mirrors" that take in live video input (usually via webcam) and then feed back that visual data in intriguing ways. My interest in using this technology is not to simply present a two dimensional "mirror," but to combine that effect with 3D graphics, creating an onscreen virtual space that is sculptural and architectural, as well as, graphical. I call the approach "3D Video Sculpture."

"Trails #1" and "Trails #2" are interactive works using a webcam and specialized software to generate interactive 3D Video Sculptures on a computer screen.

Trails #1 (click on a picture for a larger version)

"Trails #1" was a natural technical extension of the "Light Cube" work. The layers upon layers of uniform colored shapes in Light Cube led me to something different conceptually: manipulating the technology to examine and play with aspects of our visual and social identities in online space.

Being a heavily "wired" person I use the Internet for many social aspects of my life: I keep up with friends and even meet new people online using interactive web sites, e-mail, instant messaging, usenet, online MUDs and game spaces.

The “Trails” works incorporate several conditions of online social space. First, all online interaction is mediated by network "lag," the inevitable delay created by the nature of network technology that occurs to varying degree, depending on the method of communication. To convey this effect, each "layer" of cubes in the video sculpture represents a specific moment in time, with the most recent moment being mapped on one side of the piece and previous moments being mapped out in the subsequent layers. "Trails" of presence take form and dissipate into the virtual ether mimicking the patterns evident in semi-persistent forms of communication such as message boards, for instance. In a network nothing stays still, after all.

Another element I chose to represent is the objectification of personal details through the textual nature of internet communication. The video image is heavily filtered to remove any details below a certain brightness threshold, sculpting over time only the brightest colors and nothing else.

Like the Light Cube, the graphics on screen travel back and forth between abstract and literal representations of the camera input depending on the user's perspective.

Trails #2 (click on a picture for a larger version)

"Trails #2" takes a different perspective to the online experience, removing the filtering effect and reintroducing networked "noise" into the image. There is an ever present and thick colored fog traveling
through the layers of snapshots in the sculpture cube, nearly obscuring the trails of movement and visual understanding of the moments captured on screen.

Click here to view "Trails #1" in motion!. (7.46 MB Quicktime Movie)

Click here to view "Trails #2" in motion!. (8.95 MB Quicktime Movie)

The software was created in Windows C++ using Visual C++ .NET, using Quicktime for live video capture and OpenGL for graphics.

A big thanks to Daniel Shiffman and nehe.gamedev.net.

e-mail me at edtang at antiexperience.com

All Materials Copyright © 2004 Edward Tang. All materials on this site including interactive programs, images, videos, and text are the property of Edward Tang and is protected by copyright and are not to be reproduced without permission. All Rights Reserved.