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I SOLD MY HOUSE THIS WEEK. I GOT A PRETTY GOOD PRICE FOR IT, BUT IT MADE MY LANDLORD MAD AS HELL.

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IMAGES COURTESY OF THE BECKMAN INSTITUTE.

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This piece, “Sharks” by Rose Marshack, was displayed at the Calcuart exhibit at the Krannert Art Museum in March.

Worldwide, there are only about a dozen of these virtual immersive spaces. Among some of the homes to theses virtual reality spaces are Iowa State University, University of Illinois-Chicago, General Motors, and army research labs. “We have created a new forum in which both artists and scientists can play,” Kaczmarski said. Kathleen Harleman, the director of the Krannert Art Museum, is very supportive of KAM playing home to immersive art. “It is very uncommon to have this type of environment in a museum,” Harleman said. “In fact, we are the only art museum in the world to have an electronic gallery.” Harleman said that this project is unique, because it helps artists and mathematicians or scientists “translate into each other’s languages, while enabling advances for both sides.” “We’re taking great steps forward with the CANVAS and Calcuart project,” Harleman said. “You have the collaborative work of scientists, mathematicians, artists, and the rare people who excel in both areas, like Rose (Marshack).” Marshack’s primary involvement with these immersive art spaces is to create programs that will allow artistically focused, more scientifically-challenged individuals the opportunity to create works of art in more generic programs. As of now, the basic program language is C++. “As long as a person knows C++, and a little bit of OpenGL, and takes the time to read the instructions included with the Syzygy program online, they should be able to create basic artwork for these virtual spaces” Marshack said. To bring the mathematics world more in congruence with the art one, Marshack has invented t wo programs. One is cal led the Landspeeder. Work ing under urban plansounds from the scene

ning Professor Barkki George-Pallathucheril, Marshack developed Landspeeder as a data visualization of a large dataset intended for a 3 -D CAV E vir tual realm. Marshack also developed K A MS cr ipt, soft ware tools that not only enable, but successfully help nonprogramming artists create 3-D artwork in any CAVE setting. KAMS cript allows the placement of already-made jpegs, mp3s, and text files to be programmed and viewed in a CAVE . These revolutionary virtual arts are being made more available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Marshack is teaching ARTS 441: Programming for Artists. She teaches students how to properly learn the language used to encrypt CANVAS, CAVE , and CUBE . Next year, she hopes to teach an immersive art class. “Ou r [Un iver sit y] space is a teach i ng component as well as an exhibit component,” Kaczmarski said. “What we do here is not meant to be a static entertainment environment, but rather a constantly evolving space.” At the University, artists can create as many different visuals as they wish. “It is really the equivalent of an electronic gallery, a space where art is put in,” Kaczmarski said, “what’s really exciting is that it is at the beginning of a long revolutionary step towards creating spaces for artists to come in and create works of art, entirely independent of computer science knowledge.” These three virtual domains, CAVE , CUBE , a nd CA N VA S , have broug ht for t h a new generation of virtual reality for the student community. Biologists can step into the immersive art space, straight into a DNA model, and use it

to visualize the building blocks of life. Urban planners can use it to input and visualize future cities by receiving real satellite information. Architects can use it to see how a new building will work and what it will look like before it is anywhere near built. Psychologists can put people in an MRI machine, give them various tasks to perform, and actually walk into a subject’s brain to track their progress. Artists can create a fantasy world they will actually play in. One can play in a field of poppies, chase after virtual butterf lies and run away from virtual bees. A push forward on a joystick navigator allows viewers to virtually peer through a window, or walk into a house. A roller coaster ride can be simulated. A University dance student can (and did) have a dance-off with another dance student from UCLA , more than 2,000 miles away. One can swim in an underwater kingdom and spear sharks, or tour Venice, Rome, or even the Sistine Chapel. The possibilities are endless. As for the future, “well, that lies in the hands of the University,” Kaczmarski said. “We have no idea what it’s going to look like in the future. The people that are going to use it aren’t even around right now, but we hope that eventually, they will be the ones to further develop and challenge this initial idea of immersive art.” Although CANVAS will be a permanent fixture in the KAM, and viewers can experience Calcuart at their leisure, Beckman Institute has not yet opted to open the advanced CUBE spaces for the viewing of the general public. “I hope the new generation of artists will make use of these new artistic tools like no one else has before,” Kaczmarski said. “Bottom line, I envision things being accomplished that right now, I can’t even envision.” buzz

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Buzz Magazine: May 4, 2006  

May 4, 2006

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