The CMC Linear Navigator was commissioned for the entrance foyer of the Daniel Libeskind–designed City University of Hong Kong Creative Media Centre (CMC). In this iteration of the ‘linear navigator’ concept first developed for the Net.Art Browser (1999), a motorised 110-inch plasma-screen TV is mounted on rails so that it can move up and down diagonally over a slightly cantilevered wall in the foyer. Visitors may use a touch screen interface to interact with this mobile screen. A virtual information space that extends from the floor to the ceiling appears in the screen window as the motorised screen moves across the wall.
This installation offers users of the CMC the opportunity to program various contents that could range from artworks by faculty and students to straightforward information services about activities in the building.
At its launch a special application was developed to provide an overview of the building itself, and all the departments and facilities distributed over its nine floors. A prerecorded video from the point of view of a person climbing the stairs between the nine floors of the CMC could be played back on the CMC Linear Navigator, synchronised with its physical movement from the bottom to the top of the wall and in the return direction. Thus the screen could travel to assigned positions representing each of the nine floors, and by manipulating the touch screen the user could compel the display to travel to any of these floors, with the movement up or down the stairs being shown on the way. When arriving at any given floor, the display offered a menu of 360-degree panoramas of various rooms and facilities on that level of the building; users also controlled the rotation of these panoramas from the touch screen.
The application could thus spatially relocate and virtually map the experience of walking up and down the CMC’s stairs onto the movement of this screen window as it ascended and descended the wall on which it was mounted. In this way the installation constituted a hybrid modality of both tele-presence and augmented reality, and the conjugation of two spatial expressions that become physically and representationally aligned, albeit somewhat paradoxically.