HiPArt in the News...

"Art of the Future/The Future of Art" (excerpted)
by George Fifield
Art New England,Twentieth Anniversary Issue
December/January 2000, Volume 21, Number 1, page 27

A recent high bandwidth virtual reality art project at Boston University's Office of Information Technology is called "Spirited Ruins." This is a collaboration between engineers and numerous artist from many institutions. "Spirited Ruins" is a virtual environment built by artists and presented on an Immersadesk system. This is a large, wall-sized screen that, when viewed through special glasses, appears as a full-color, three dimensional environment. It is linked to the Alliance network of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications(NCSA). This network connects numerous computing centers at participating institutions over high-bandwidth connections. When you explore the interactive world of "Spirited Ruins," you can encounter other explorers (in their VR guise as little alien creatures).

The various environments in "Spirited Ruins" have all been designed by artists. One of my favorite is a beautiful space designed by printmaker Deborah Cornell and her husband, musician Richard Cornell. In a huge glowing universe, floating shapes similar to Australian petroglyphs can be explored by manuvering (flying) toward and through them. As you approach a shape, ethereal sounds well up. The music is the product of proximity, not time. You create your own musical score by traveling through virtual space from one beautiful shape to another.

Throughout history, artists' imaginations have been limited by having to build their worlds in static paint or words or by notes on pieces of sheet music. These new environments are complex, dynamic systems, virtual worlds in which people can interact with their surroundings and with each other. Imagine such a virtual world designed by Brueghel or Hieronymous Bosch.