Alice's Room

1989 Kanagawa, Japan

Software: Gideon May
Hardware: Huib Nelissen, Floris van Manen

In this interactive installation a large back-projection monitor was mounted on a motorized platform, and a custom made hand-held cableless joystick enabled the viewer to control its 360-degree rotation. This caused a synchronous rotation of the viewer's point of view in a computer-generated scene that was displayed on its screen. The joystick also enabled the viewer to move their point of view forwards and backwards in that scene.

The computer-generated image showed a room that replicated the appearance and proportions of the real room in which the installation was situated. The virtual space and the real space were optically aligned so that the viewer facing a door or a window in the real room would also be facing the same features in the simulated room. In this way Alice's Room set up a conjunction of virtual and actual spaces that enabled them to be optically interpolated and aesthetically augmented.

Four computer-generated objects were inserted into this simulated environment—red, green, yellow and blue rectangular boxes that floated in the four quadrants of the room. When the viewer entered these boxes, each showed a room interior that replicated the outer room, but with the addition of certain special visual features.

The first room showed a repeat of the four coloured boxes, which were now in a continuous process of splitting into thirty-two smaller boxes and then all reassembling themselves back into four.

The second room showed two crossing rows (one cyan, the other magenta) of large Japanese characters traversing between the opposite walls of the space. This was a haiku written specially for Alice's Room by Shuntaro Tanikawa, and on the surfaces of the respective two rows of characters were reflections of an animation of a walking man and woman by Eadweard Muybridge.

The third room contained a slowly rotating wire-frame hypercube.

At the center of the fourth room there was a continuously rotating replica of the video monitor installation. While this monitor only had a blank white screen, changing colored reflections on the walls of the virtual room conveyed the impression that it was being illuminated by unseen moving images being reflected off this screen.

Exhibition Record

1989/11/06 - 11/11 : Wonderland of Science Art - Interactive Art, Kanagawa International Art and Science Exhibition, Kanagawa Science Park, Kawasaki, Japan