A networked, real-time virtual realm generated from the unending flow of news media.
Data_cosm is an examination of the chronological archives generated by news media and of the dynamic information structures that mediate this process. Each day, the work deconstructs and reassembles live Internet news feeds into a continuously evolving 3D realm.
The core structure of the composition is defined by a Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) framework that is augmented by Flash and Java code-sets. Every day at 00:00GMT a Java application samples the live BBC Internet news service and generates a database containing the website's entire collection of articles. One hundred news items are then randomly selected for the creation of a text and image dataset that will remain until the next day. Though a series of embedded Flash elements, this dataset is then combined with the 3D skeletal structure of the world thus completing the genesis of the virtual realm.
An individual can simultaneously interface with this virtual world though two primary viewpoints. The first, internal perspective is located at the absolute centre of the space. From this vantage point a seemingly infinite expanse of information is encountered – the unending sea of data that envelopes every aspect of our digital lives. In contrast, the second, externalised viewpoint reveals the nature of the composition as a sculptural body reminiscent of a crystalline form. Upon closer examination, the formation can be visually dissected into an interconnecting set of cubic structures that oscillate according to a purposeful, yet irregular rhythm.
The relative existence of the artwork as both a painterly expanse and a sculptural object seeks to question perspectival relationships within a given reality and alludes to a notion of the macrocosmic being contained by the microcosmic.
Drew Baker [ VRML programming ] . David Steele [ Java programming ]
Hugh Denard & Patrick Lichty [ discourse ]
Data_cosm v1.0 was commissioned in 2005 for the Net:Reality exhibition with funding from Arts Council England and generous support from King's Visualisation Lab, Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London. Version 1.2 was produced in 2014 for the Living Data solo touring exhibition.
[ gallery ] High-specification Windows 7/8/10 computer system capable of real-time high definition 3D rendering (VRML and Flash); multi/single-channel high definition video system; 5.1/2.1 audio system; and HCI device for user interaction.
[ online ] Windows 7/8/10 computer system with Firefox or Internet Explorer; the Cortona3D Viewer and Adobe Flash plugins; and stereo audio. A high-specification CPU/GPU, colour display with ≥1024x768 resolution and high-speed Internet connection are recommended.
* The Cortona3D Viewer is not available for OS X and Linux. On these systems FreeWRL can be used to render most aspects of the work.
* In April 2015 Google deprecated support for NPAPI plug-ins (including Cortona3D Viewer). As such, VRML works can no longer be viewed using Chrome.