Liquid Views

Fleischmann & Strauss
© ; Fleischmann & Strauss

(collective) Monika Fleischmann | Wolfgang Strauss

Liquid Views ,
Co-workers & Funding
Christian A.Bohn, Jörg Lange, K.G. Rautenberg directed by Monika Fleischmann und Wolfgang Strauss
Produced at VISWIZ / GMD Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung
  • Liquid3
    1181 × 1093
  • LV LA
    3402 × 4047
  • LV MA
    620 × 929
  • LV3er
    1181 × 348
  • LV-Aufbau
    1729 × 1354
  • LV Video
    720 × 576
  • Liquid Views - Barcelona 2022
    848 × 480
  • Liquid Views (1997)
    640 × 480

Liquid Views explores the concept of self-reflection in a digital pool. Like Narcissus gazing into the water, visitors see themselves, creating ripples with their touch. But here's the twist: the installation also reflects back, making us aware that we are being watched by others.

Liquid View is an interactive installation about the virtual double, observation, and surveillance, inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses and the myth of Narcissus. As an act of self-reflection, it offers visual, and tactile observations on presence and consciousness in the digital age. This is achieved through a horizontal touch screen, an integrated camera, and a large projection.

Visitors see their reflection on the screen and simultaneously see themselves from a different perspective. By touching their reflection in the algorithmically generated virtual water, they create ripples. A real-time morphing algorithm transforms the waves and their image into a second self.
Using touch as a medium for visual contact and tactile vision, the viewer is immersed in a dynamic process of observation, action, and gesture. This interplay seamlessly blends the physical and the virtual. In the background, a large projection of the self provides an external perspective. In a foretaste of the emerging selfie culture, self-observation is transformed into a public spectacle.
In the words of the artists from the SIGGRAPH '93 catalog, Liquid Views is a metaphor for our online existence, illustrating our role as navigators in the digital realm. They stated, "On the high seas of cyberspace, everyone's identity is transformed into a stream of variable and interchangeable data, allowing the viewer to alter or redefine their identity at will."

Everything is as if, the water as well as the reflection. The blurring and dissolving of the image are the only real things happening here. The performative aspect of Liquid Views is evident in the process of approaching, exploring, and transforming the self-image in virtual water. The active experience of the recipient becomes part of the artwork, unveiling the concept of Mixed Reality. The moment of reflection - captured in the melting image - is perceived as now. It is in this moment that so many levels meet that constitute the aesthetic attraction. The mirror itself becomes an active participant, revealing not only the external image, but an unconscious state of being.
The Liquid Views imaging algorithm works on three levels. First, it generates ripples through physical simulation. This makes the water look as if it were real. These waves also distort the texture coordinates of the camera image according to the flow of the waves. Second, it reads the video stream from the camera into the wave texture. Finally, it interprets touchscreen signals and incorporates them into the wave generator.

This interactive piece was probably the first real-time morphing in 1992. Prior to that, morphing had only been seen as an animation in Michael Jackson's video Black or White, released the year before. Liquid Views emphasizes the potential for profound revelation through encounters with the Other, transforming the viewer's reflection and challenging them to become both observer and observed. The work's enduring relevance lies in its ability to turn Narcissus' passive gaze into an active, participatory experience, bridging the gap from the tangible to the virtual through the medium of touch.
Software: C++, Open GL, real-time morphing algorithm
  • aesthetics
    • acoustic
    • immersive
    • interactive
    • performative
    • psychedelic
    • real-time
    • three-dimensional
  • subjects
    • Art and Science
      • algorithms
      • artificial intelligence (science discipline)
      • dynamical systems
    • Arts and Visual Culture
      • allegory
      • portraits
      • virtuality
    • Body and Psychology
      • perception
      • self awareness
    • Magic and Phantastic
      • ghosts
      • supernaturalism
      • superstition
  • technology
    • hardware
      • cameras
      • multi-touchscreens
    • interfaces
      • camera recordings
    • software
      • C++
Technology & Material
The algorithm of the imaging mechanism of Liquid Views is effective on three levels: First, it is a program for generating the waves through physical simulation based on a physical algorithm and on an artificial neural network that makes the water look as if it were real. The wave algorithm also serves to distort the texture coordinates of the camera image according to the flow of the waves. Second, it is a program for reading the video stream from the camera into the wave texture, and third, a routine for reading the touchscreen signals into the wave generator.

Interactive Installation with Touchscreen, PC, Windows XP, (originally SGI), Individual software, loudspeaker, camera, projection screen. Web GL Online Version using tablet since 2023.
SPACE: Variable installation dimensions