An immersive and interactive experience for the Panoscope 360°

General description:

In Where are you? the immersed visitors use a joystick to fly as in dreams in the X, Y and Z axis of an information/experience space where scale matters:

Scale 0 shows an infinite and navigable X, Y and Z grid serving as a neutral calibration space for both the system and visitors. Moving to scale +1 gives form to clusters of elements (images, sounds, texts and objects) organized as an archive. Each element acts as a micro-portal; they are moments of an unfolding narrative as visitors zoom through and pay attention to some.

A transition to scale +2 can be triggered by visitors at any moment. This rescaling turns element in the archive into particles of larger self-organizing clouds of lights forming a more abstract living space. These clusters of translucent self-organizing cellular automatons invite to a sensational journey. Human chants are attached to clusters and the visitor’s path will mix these into an evolving composition.

When triggered, the transition to scale +3 appears to collapse the soft clusters of clouds into materials of a terrestrial crust. Visitors are repositioned in the middle of an infinite expanse of plains, mountains and valleys reminiscent of sublime landscapes of the 18th century picturesque. Controlling their altitude, speed and direction, they re-enact the then new experience of space that inspired people such as Barker and De Saussure in the late 18th century when they formulated their panoramic representations of the world.


At any moment, visitors may come upon other beings. They may be live ones through a telepresence connection within a local area network (LAN), in this case between the three networked panoscopes. They may also be pre-recorded “portraits” connected to the immediate context of the visitor experience. They may finally be visitors themselves, when hidden cameras incorporate their own image within the “world”.

In Where are you? the subject (visitor, actor, protagonist) controls his/her position, the path and speed of his/her journey and, more interestingly perhaps, the scale at which he/she is prepared to “exist”.

Visitor experience and technical specs:

The projection space of each Panoscope (inverted dome, 5,5 m in diameter, 3 m high, free standing) opens up in two sections to let visitors in and experience total audio and visual immersion. It can be left open slightly to let large numbers of visitors flow through or be closed from within by a smaller group (up to 8 people). The experience of flight is driven by an omnidirectional pointer that intuitively let visitors wander around the virtual spaces of Where are you?.

A regular PC (WIN XP) runs the custom program (C++/ OpenGL). It is connected to the SXGA hemispheric projector (above the visitors’ heads) and to a series of transducers forming a hyper realistic immersive soundscape. A USB camera is used for live video input. Each panoscope (made of 32 fiberglass panels and aluminum parts) is assembled in 3 hour by a team of three. It is safe to allow for a two day setup time.

Credit titles:

Concept, script, design, production, direction: Luc Courchesne
Programming, modeling: Guillaume Langlois
Soundscape, sound design: Luc Martinez
© Luc Courchesne


Wired’s NextFest, Chicago, USA (June 2005)
06 en scène, Nice, France (April 2006)
ACM Multimédia, Santa Barbara CA, USA (October 2006)
PFOAC, Montreal, Canada (January 2007)
SAT, Montreal, Canada (October 2007)
NAMOC, Beijing, China (June 2008)
EspooCine, Espoo, Finland (September 2009)
Code Live, Vancouver, Canada (February 2010)

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