off the wall
is an interactive Virtual Reality Opera conceived, written and realized by the visual artist Margret Wibmer (Austria/The Netherlands) and the composer Günther Zechberger (Austria)
It will debut as part of the exhibition „Die Desorientierung des Blickes” at De Beyerd center for contemporary art in Breda
OFF THE WALL is a fully interactive, audio-visual experience incorporating pre-recorded images & sound triggered by the viewer’s physical presence in a camera surveyed space. The installation directly links the viewer to the image and equally relates the image to the sound.
The interactive image on screen presents the Virtual Sculpture Margret Wibmer dressed in an industrial yellow rubber suit set against a black background. The figure appears detached as an astronaut in black space defying the context and perspective of the actual room it enters and shares with the public. As an unapproachable character with a repertoire of movements and simultaneous sound effects it gives itself to be animated by the audience.
The suit has appeared previously in Wibmer’s work and was redesigned to take on a specific shape for this project. It functions as a wrapping making any identification of the person underneath impossible.
The visually non-defined space in which the Virtual Sculpture lives is structured by Günther Zechberger’s sound. Both sound and image are closely connected and both are interactive. For the first time the „percipient“ is given static sound material which will only turn into actual music when activated by movement.
The rubber suit itself provided the basic sound samples recorded during Margret Wibmer’s taped performance. Each independent sound clip was then defined to have it’s own unique frequency, dynamic, sound-color, and length. .The result is of surprising tonal range and modulation, far removed form any squeek or crunch. Even though rendered abstract and betraying their origin the sounds report an encrypted momentum that again connects the observer to the Virtual Sculpture. This association essentially contributes to the energy of the image/sound relationship.
Günther Zechberger developed an 6-channel (stereo) sound track played back over a specifically designed speaker system, which allows for a 3-dimensional perception of the sound-scape.
Who can play:
While most interactive pieces allow for only one ‚player‘ at a time OFF THE WALL is not only designed for solo-interaction but also for a larger group.
How does it work?
A one person situation:
The images as well as the sound react to any small movements of the audience within the viewing field of the ceiling mounted camera. The installation is highly sensitive, which means that a small and slow movement will have more impact than a large, sweeping one. The visitor operates just like the mouse of a computer. Walking along diagonal axes or making small movements along those lines will cause a wide range of effects in the three dimensional structure of sound and image.
Those areas, which are outside the camera’s view are non-interactive. The boundaries of interactive and non-interactive areas are not clearly evident, the visitor is free to experiment and explore the terrain.
In actual fact, the visitor is offered a huge instrument which he/she can operate through movement and which offers endless possibilities to create their own „composition“ and unique „choreography“.
The larger audience:
When more than one person is within the viewing range of the camera, it will react to a movement of the total shape created by all visitors together. The movement of the image and sound then becomes a complex three dimensional structure. Only if every person on the active field would stand still, the image will stand still and the sound will stop.
The techniques applied in OFF THE WALL are unique in its kind and were designed solely and exclusively for OFF THE WALL to realize its artistic vision. Close collaboration between the visual artist Margret Wibmer, the composer Guenther Zechberger and the technicians was essential in order to make the idea work overall and down to the finest detail.
Rens Veltman – construction of robot for QuickTime VR recording, Schwaz, Austria
Tommi Bergmann – image and sound control, Schwaz, Austria
Heiko Lochas – motion tracking/mathematical operations, Weimar, Germany
Daniel Fischer – motion tracking/translations into computer language, Weimar,Germany
OFF THE WALL was developed for three different platforms:
- As a live interactive installation with two large screen projections and a three dimensional six channel sound environment
- An interactive on-screen version which will be available on CD-ROM for art lovers, rubber freaks and the young generation.
- Installationview De Beyerd
- robot, quicktime VR recording
- Flash animation