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September 06, 2006



Transmittable Architecture

International premiere of IMPLANT :: A networked virtual world and installation created by Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke, Workspace Unlimited :: IMPLANT will take place at the Vooruit Kunstencentrum in Ghent, Belgium, inside the Domzaal and outside on the gallery street window. Simultaneously IMPLANT will be networked with the project EXTENSION a virtual world installation at the Society for Art & Technology in Montreal and DEVMAP a virtual world installation at V2_Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam. The opening event will be live streamed from the Vooruit and can be followed at the SAT and V2_Institute in the networked virtual world installations!

About the work: Text by Wayne Ashley, Independant Curator, New York :: Workspace Unlimited's new work IMPLANT is both an electronically networked interactive virtual world and an installation physically situated in the magnificent Art Nouveau building of Vooruit, a performance venue in the center of Ghent. Founding members artist Thomas Soetens and architect Kora Van den Bulcke create a digital 3D version of the entire building and its surrounding environs which users can access and navigate on computers from inside Vooruit and simultaneously from the Society for Art and Technology in Montreal, and V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam. In this way Soetens and Van den Bulcke exercise their most compelling gesture: re-imagining Vooruit as transmittable architecture, an ongoing and revisable place that does not adhere to our ordinary understanding of physics, nor to the continuities of space and time.

Once logged into IMPLANT, visitors navigate through two co-existing architectures: a sumptuous simulation of the real Vooruit, a large complex maze of theater spaces, cafes, meeting rooms, and offices which can be traversed in much the same way we move through physical space--walking upstairs, through doors, down corridors, around corners, inside and out. And a hidden hyperlinked architecture that emerges as users interact with the simulation's various walls and ceilings. This secondary architecture is a malleable, almost liquid space that is contingent and constantly in flux-portals that transport us immediately to continuously shifting destinations within Vooruit according to the position of the visitor; virtual cameras that allow us to secretly follow other visitors and project their journeys and activities onto walls in front of us; the ability to walk through the projection and find ourselves together with them in the same space.

Outside on the real street, passersby will peer into Vooruit's glass lobby only to see a projected simulation of the same lobby seamlessly integrated within Vooruit's facade. Instead of seeing the usual theatergoers purchasing tickets and socializing with friends, viewers will observe the goings-on of avatars, graphical representations of actual people in Vooruit co-mingling and exploring the same simulated space with their counterparts from Montreal and Rotterdam. A web cam outside Vooruit captures the scene on the street, projecting the performances of everyday life back into the virtual world for those inside Vooruit, V2_ and SAT to witness. The effect is dizzying as the borders between inside and outside the virtual world become unclear, and who is performing for whom confused.

The longer visitors explore IMPLANT, the more layers they encounter. Embedded throughout the virtual world and triggered at various moments users encounter video and sound documentation from a recent online symposium called Breaking the Game. The symposium brought together an international group of competing theorists and practitioners to build, debate and reflect on virtual worlds, computer gaming, immersive technologies, and new possibilities for artistic practice and experience.

Workspace Unlimited is interested in breaking down oppositions between practice and theory, interior and exterior, imagination and perception, seeing and being. Soetens and Van den Bulcke seek to explore creative ways of making virtual worlds that are simultaneously intellectual, poetic, and hallucinatory.


V2_Institute, Eendrachtsstraat 12, Rotterdam, the Netherlands :: Sept. 15 at 17:00 V2_ Ground floor: Lecture by Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke streamed in the virtual world installation.

Society for Art & Technology, 1195 Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Canada ::
Sept. 15 at 11:00 am (local time Montreal) Ground floor: Lecture by Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke streamed the virtual world installation. :: Sept. 15 - 16 - 17 Ground floor: Exhibition of the interactive virtual world installation.

Workspace Unlimited website: www.workspace-unlimited.org

IMPLANT credits: Artistic direction and creation: Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke; OpenGL programming: Patrick Bergeron; Quake 3 programming: Matt McChesney; Modeling and character design: Jason Dovey; Network setup: Simon Piette, Brecht Vermeulen (IBBT), Thomas Bouve; Modeling and character design: Jason Dovey; Communications: Stoffel Debuysere; Copywriting: Wayne Ashley, independant Curator.

Posted by jo at September 6, 2006 08:05 AM