Interactive video panorama for computer with microphone and hemispheric projection system (Panoscope 360). Created with support from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology, the International Academy for Media Arts and Sciences, the Canada Council for the Arts, Université de Montréal and the Société des arts technologiques (SAT). The original version is in English.

General description:

The Visitor: Living by Numbers is inspired by Pier-Paolo Pasolini's 1969 film Theorema and by a dream Courchesne's daughter had when she was 10 years old. In the installation, visitors are planted somewhere in the Japanese countryside. From there they will try to make a life for themselves by saying any number between one and twelve to indicate the direction they want to go or to show interest in people and what they have to say. Exploring the territory, happening upon and entering a shelter, meeting and dealing with the inhabitants and gaining status within the group will define a visitor's experience. Leaving the place and the inhabitants to themselves (as in Pasolini's film) or being forced to escape after an earthquake (as in his daughter's dream) will further characterize the visitor's experience.

The experience starts in daytime, in the middle of rice fields just north of Ogaki-City in central Japan (Gifu Prefecture). In the inner garden of a low building, visitors will happen upon a woman preparing tea. This first encounter may lead to an invitation to diner where a mixed group of people (6) prepare and share a Japanese style stew (nabet). The diner is endless but conversations with dining partners may bring a visitor to spare moments in the intimacy of one's room where he or she is offered the host's mind and thoughts on different topics growing increasingly personal. In the process, a visitor builds a position in the group that either will have him invited to take more place among the group, or gradually ignored and abandoned.

Meanwhile, night has come and the risk of an unforgiving event in this earthquake prone area is more tangible. If such a thing was to happen, destroying the shelter and forcing everyone out, visitors would, depending on their status, be left behind or invited to join in the chaotic and confuse quest for a new place where every aspect of this group’s life will resume in the same way as if nothing had happened.

Technical specification and diagram of the installation
This single channel panoramic installation requires a Macintosh G-4 computer (867 mhz with 128 MB of RAM and an internal hard disc of at least 40 GB), a microphone, a SXGA data projector with a short throw lens and a panoramic projection device (Panoscope 360), or a SXGA projector with hemispheric lens and a projection dome.

The video images were recorded using a panoramic lens (RemoteReality) adapted to a high definition video camera (Sony HDW-700). The resulting video frames have the form of an anamorphic disc representing a large portion of the surrounding space from 15° above the horizon, to 80° under and on 360° all around. Once projected inside a dome (Panoscope 360 -- Second Edition), or reflected onto a hemispheric mirror (Panoscope 360 -- First edition), the original properties of each image are restored. The process for single channel panoramic imaging was developed by the author specifically for this work. It marks an important development in the research for simpler and more affordable immersive imaging techniques.

Frames from the original videotapes were digitized, cropped to 1280 x 1024 and assembled into compressed QuickTime movies using the TrueMotion 2X codec. The resulting high definition video sequences play at 15 fps from a standard Macintosh G4 internal drive or external FireWire drive. In The Visitor: Living by Numbers, the 1 hour and 35 minutes of high definition video uses 27 GB of disc space.

The authoring/delivery software was developed in HyperCard where sequences are defined, as well as the action points and the vocabulary for the voice recognition software. The voice recognition uses the standard PlainTalk resources from Apple's operating system MacOS 9.2.

A vocabulary of 12 words (numbers from one to twelve) is used by visitors to operate within this pre-determined world. These numbers are placed as a clock at the bottom edge of the dome in which visitors are standing. Visitors speak the number corresponding to a destination or to point at a person they whish to engage with. In the course of a conversation, they will use numbers in the same way to signify interest or disinterest in what is said or offered: the number corresponding to the character's position will encourage the conversation to develop in the same direction; another number will either produce a change in the course of the conversation, set a different mood, invite the character to accompany the visitor somewhere else or simply put an end to the encounter. The signification of each number is contextual but the principle of numbers as pointers remains consistent throughout the work. Voice recognition only works when the action stops.

The installation requires a dark and quiet space of at least 8 m x 8 m (floor) x 3.5 m (ceiling).

Credit titles:


YOKOYAMA Tadashi (man 1), YAMAMOTO Shiro (man 2), Wayne MACEDO (man 3), Philippe CHATELAIN (man 4), MIWA Ikuko (woman 1), MYOKAM Hiroko (woman 2), Virginie LAVEY (woman 3), MIWA Momoco (woman 4)

Production team:

Director/producer: Luc COURCHESNE
Production designer: MYOKAM Hiroko
Director of photography: Franco ZOCCALI
Sound engineer: FUYAMA Tsuyoshi
Coordination in Japan: MYOKAM Hiroko
Systems for camera movements: Luc COURCHESNE, Franco ZOCCALI, Robert McNABB, André JETTÉ
Systems architecture and design: Marc LAVALLÉE, Etienne DESAUTELS.
Programming of authoring software: Etienne DESAUTELS
Authoring: Luc COURCHESNE
Image capture: Covitec
Video Editing: Luc COURCHESNE, Olivier LETARTE, Marc LAVALLÉE
Sync sound design: Olivier LETARTE
Ambiant sound design: Zack SETTEL
Design of installation: Luc COURCHESNE
Assistant: Marijulie LAVIGNE

Special thanks to Blanche BAILLARGEON, D'nardo COLUCCI, Jean GAGNON, Franklyn JOYCE, Victoria LYNN, SAKANE Itsuo, Monique SAVOIE, TAKAHASHI Yoko, Ron RIZVI, Sergei TRUBKO, Heath WATTS, Oka-san.

Created with support from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology, the International Academy for Media Arts and Sciences, the Canada Council for the Arts, Université de Montréal and the Société des arts technologiques (SAT).

© Luc COURCHESNE, 2001


Created in Montréal and Ogaki-City (Japan), 1999-2001. Premiered in Space Odysseys, a group exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), August 19, 2001.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (August-October 2001)
The Interaction '01, Ogaki City, Japon (October-November 2001)
Société des arts technologiques (SAT), Montréal (January 2002)
Transmediale, Berlin (February 2002)
Festival Via, Maubeuge (March 2002)
Festival Exit, Créteil (April 2002)
Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (September 2002)
Galerie d’art de l’Université de Sherbrooke (September 2002)
Cinemedia, Melbourne (November 2002-January 2003)
Future Cinema, ZKM/Karlsruhe, (November 2002-March 2003)
Microwave Festival, Hong Kong (November-December 2002)
Sala Montcada, Barcelona (February-March 2003)
Future Cinema, Kiasma, Helsinki (June-August 2003)
C3, Budapest (October 2003)
Souffleurs d’images, Lille 2004 (December 2003 –February 2004)

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