Placeholder: Landscape and Narrative in a Virtual Environment

Brenda Laurel

Placeholder: Landscape and Narrative in a Virtual Environment ,
Co-workers & Funding
PLACEHOLDER was a virtual environment project designed by Brenda Laurel and Rachel Strickland and produced by Brenda Laurel. Placeholder was a two-person fully interactive virtual-reality system, utilizing stereoscopic head-mounted displays, three-dimensional spatialized audio displays, and custom-designed manual input devices to allow two participants to explore and play in three connected virtual environments. The environments were drawn from natural environments in the Banff area, each "captured" and represented through different techniques. A stand of Hoodoos above the Bow River was captured on video and represented as a tiled dome of still photographs with spatialized audio. A dark, watery Cave was captured photographically but visually represented with simple textured polygons; its primary representational mode was acoustic, relying heavily on spatialized audio. A rushing Waterfall was captured in motion video and represented as a three-dimensional virtual relief projection with audio. Characters based on folk stories and rock art were represented as two-dimensional petroglyphs. When a participant intersected with a petroglyph, it became a "smart costume", altering the voice, appearance, and sensory-motor characteristics of its wearer. Objects called "voiceholders" allowed participants to record and hear fragements of stories within the environments. Transport among environments was represented by a network of spiral-shaped "portals".

Technology & Material