1975 Paris, France 
Coauthors: Jeffrey Shaw, Theo Botschuijver

Production: Eventstructure Research Group, Amsterdam

This pioneering augmented reality installation created a montage of fictional events within a museum environment by enabling the projection of staged performances to be perceptually contiguous with the real space and actual events taking place there.

The work was constituted by two structural elements: a large projection screen and an optical viewing console with an automated pair of slide projectors. Because of the screen's retro-reflective properties (it was made from 3M Scotchlite), the projected image was only visible through the viewing console. From every other position in the room the screen appeared as a plain grey surface.

This optical projection system was so inherently bright that it could match the ambient lighting in the museum exactly, and a perceptual conjunction of the projected images with the surroundings could thus be achieved. Furthermore, these projected images showed the exact portion of the museum environment that was hidden by the screen, creating a seamless continuity between the virtual and actual spaces. A further consequence of this optical alignment was that visitors walking by the screen were unaware they had entered and become part of the visual montage of the projected image and its virtual events.

Twelve different performances had been staged and photographed in this portion of the museum prior to the exhibition. These events were projected as slide sequences that were individually triggered whenever a visitor stepped onto the viewing console. For example, one performance showed a visitor making a bed for himself on a museum bench, and then going to sleep on it. Another showed the projection screen itself being built up and gradually blocking out the view of the museum space behind it. In other sequences a visitor was seen walking over to the museum window and smashing it with a pickaxe, or closing a venetian blind over it, thereby creating darkness in only the projected portion of the room. In these ways Viewpoint explored certain basic potentialities of an augmented reality, including the co-action of real and virtual events and the entangled enigmatic conjunction of real and virtual scenarios.

Exhibition Record

1975/09/19 - 11/02 : 9th Biennale de Paris, Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, France