A networked, real-time virtual world blending icons of pre-history with aesthetics of the information age.
In Monolith[s], temporal and spatial dimensions of the viewer's own immediate environment are absorbed and rearranged into a constantly evolving virtual realm in which icons of pre-history are juxtaposed with digitally complex refractions of how history materializes in the information age.
The core geometry of the artwork is defined by a set of Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) files that generate a dynamic three-dimensional realm. The world and structures within it are formulated according to motifs and proportions of ancient architecture infused with fundamental mathematics of modern digital communication systems. Each genesis of the artwork's geometry is unique, as mathematical randomization is augmented by aspects from our own realities. Variables such as the time of day, the viewer's location on the Earth, and the position of the Earth around the sun are incorporated into the artwork, thus instilling into the realm functions of a rudimentary clock, global positioning system, and solar calendar.
Every day at 00:00GMT a Java servlet deconstructs the live BBC internet news service and creates a database containing the website's entire collection of news articles. From this database, 100 random news items (each represented by a text and an image file) are selected and used to create a server-side dataset that lasts until the next day. This dataset is called by Flash elements embedded within the VRML. These complex components, which are in a constant state of flux, overlay simple geometry and textures that evoke early virtual reality graphics, while the world's soundscape is constructed from an amalgamation of the BBC's live Internet radio service and spatialized sound loops.
Drew Baker [ VRML programming ] . David Steele [ backend programming ]
Jo-Anne Green & Helen Thorington [ curation ] . Hugh Denard [ discourse ] . Gregory Sporton [ technology ]
Monolith[s] v1.0 was commissioned by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and generous support from King's Visualisation Lab, Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London; and ParallelGraphics.
[ 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.