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Interactive Installations : (Perception is) The Master of Space (1990)

David Rokeby beside the 'eye' in The Master of Space
(Otso Gallery, Espoo, Finland 1991)

"(Perception is) The Master of Space" is a variation of "Very Nervous System". The title is derived from a quote by the turn of the century French philosopher Henri Bergson which read in full (approximately): "Perception is the master of space in the exact manner that action is the master of time." String, hanging from the ceiling at 1/2 meter intervals, was used to establish the edges of the perceptual field of the system's camera and its shadows. The camera was set up near the ceiling and angled so that the top of its field corresponded to the floor at the entrance to the space. As one walked into the installation, one was in effect increasingly submerged in the interactive space.

Sounds included heartbeats and breathing that increased pace with continued interaction, pebbles and waves, wind, footsteps recorded within the space. As one approached the camera at the apex of the two walls of string, the intensity of the interaction increased. Certain sounds were mapped to specific areas of the space. At the "European Media Arts Festival", the space had a number of columns in it. Behind the most dominant column a behaviour was set up that generated the sound of breaking glass only if someone passed behind the column from the point of view of the camera.

A second computer ran a Hypercard stack showing an eye observing the space and including some text related to the notion of the activity of perception using techniques first used in "Liquid Language". (At the Gastieg, the strings were replaced with metal bead chains (not as successful as the strings.)) (Next)


'European Media Arts Festival', Osnabrück, West Germany.

'European Software Festival', Gasteig, Munich, West Germany.
'MuuMedia Festival', Otso Gallery, Helsinki, Finland. 

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