The World Generator / The Engine of Desire

Bill Seaman

The World Generator / The Engine of Desire ,
Co-workers & Funding
funded by grants from New York State Council on the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; The National Endowment for the Arts; Harvestworks, Inc.; Art Matters, Inc.; and the Eugene McDermott Award, M.I.T.
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The World Generator / The Engine of Desire (1996-present) marks an expansion of Seaman's work into the realm of virtual environments. Seaman collaborating with the programmer Gideon May authored a complex virtual world generator that enables users of the system to construct and navigate virtual worlds by making choices from a spinning virtual interface of container wheels, from a physical interface table. These container wheels house a series of different media-elements and processes including 3D objects, 2D images and poetic texts, musical loops, and digital movies as well as processes relevant to the entire world. The user of the system can also explore a set of built-in chance processes to construct worlds. Participants can also do what Erkki Huhtamo calls "World Processing," enabling them to edit and alter the virtual world. One can also attach behaviors to the media-elements, apply still and movie texture maps, as well as make the media-elements transparent. When the participant navigates through the virtual world, a new sound mix is made for each user - Seaman calls this Recombinant Music. The work explores emergent meaning and is different for each participant. A networked version of the work has been shown internationally which enables people in two parts of the world to inhabit and operate within simultaneous copies of the same environment, communicate via video phone, and view the alternate participant as a video avatar. This avatar shows the relative position of the alternate participant within the virtual space. A Japanese Version of the work has also been authored. A third large scale version has been authored for the Visualisation Portal at UCLA which is visible on a 160 degree screen, with literally hundreds of objects/images in the environment. Seaman's Ph.D. Recombinant Poetics: Emergent Meaning as Examined and Explored Within a Specific Generative Virtual Environment (1999), discusses the work at great length, and is available on-line through the Langlois Foundation.

(homepage B. Seaman)
  • aesthetics
    • installation-based
    • processual
    • projected
  • genres
    • installations
      • interactive installations
      • virtual reality (VR)
Technology & Material