Plein Air 001 (Entropy, Terror, and the Sublime within a Cyberspace Landscape)
Developed in C++ using Allocore for the Allosphere at the California NanoSystems Institute
Plein Air 001 is an immersive algorithmic landscape and musical composition developed for the Allosphere, a large-scale immersive virtual reality environment and laboratory located at the California NanoSystems Institute. The Allosphere is a 30-foot diameter steel sphere that a number of viewers can walk into, and be fully surrounded in 360-degree 3D video content and spatialized surround sound. This unique research facility allows for one to quite literally step into virtual worlds thereby experiencing them in a visceral way and “develop bodily intuitions about environments into which the body cannot venture”¹. To experience Plein Air 001 is to step into the space itself within the Allosphere and be fully surrounded by emergent plant life made of light towering fifteen to thirty feet tall, and listening to them suddenly echo into the virtual abyss as they vanish and reform.
The concept of en plein air “in the open air” is in reference to the act of painting outdoors popularized by the french impressionists such as Monet and Renoir. Plein Air 001 is at once subject and object, a 3D navigable cyberspace landscape and simultaneously a gestural representation of that landscape. Plein Air 001 depicts self similar algorithmic plants emerging from an infinite void, filling with hues of color that describe their internal digital-DNA. As the forms reach the end of their genetic information they are ripped from existence and rebirthed in a flash of spatialized sound. Without a terrain or horizon to ground themselves these forms are destined to echo in a sublime unknowable infinity, gaining solidarity only through the probabilistic relationships of proximity that emerge.
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