The 'Irreal' in New Media Art
TRG [Transreality Generators]--by FoAM--is a project that builds upon the two previous immersive installations / responsive environments: TGarden and txOom. All three projects are concerned with the 'irreal' in new media art. By 'irreal' we mean artworks that provoke a tension or imbalance between tangible reality and the imaginary worlds. With responsive environments, the line between the real and the imaginary can be very thin, allowing for the experience to become 'irreal' - where the participants fade in and out of physical reality, uncertain of their position in this 'reality continuum'. TGarden was designed to allow human gestures to use video and audio as calligraphic media, to 'write and draw' the immersive environment on the fly. txOom extended the concept and became an 'irreal ecology' where media would grow based on their interaction with the participants. TRG changes scale once more, to infinitely large and infinitely small 'irreal universes', whose existence is highly unstable and unpredictable, where minuscule local interactions can conjure up the lives massive worlds.
The conceptual framework within which the artists develop their concepts and designs is 'simulation of physics and physicality of simulation'. In order to be able to 'mix' the physical and the virtual reality in interesting ways, the artists explore the basic principles that constitute our universe (gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear forces) and create media worlds as new universes, where physical laws become amplified, distorted, enlarged etc. To the audience immersed in the MR environment, these worlds should 'feel' as familiar and intuitive, but upon closer inspection their strange and magical properties can become apparent. The TRG team creates rich media worlds consisting of materials, objects, interfaces and architectures that allow a seamless transition between the physical reality and the computational worlds. By correlating some of the more interesting properties in the physical systems (such as fundamental physical forces, string theory and membrane physics, tensegrity principles, etc.), and abstracting them, there is the potential to create new (coherent) laws within the media-worlds.
The project focuses on Mixed Reality (environments containing significant virtual and physical interaction possibilities, strongly intertwined) and exploring its implications in the cultural sphere. Mixed Reality (MR) enables the public to be immersed in multisensory, responsive media environments capable of reacting and evolving, influenced by human activity and interaction. The participants leave the role of the observers and become creators of a temporary autonomous reality. In TRG, an international team of artists and technologists explore the frontiers of this unique form of creative expression through the integration of self-contained systems of media, materials and structures, perceived as a distinct field of reality, embedded in the physical objects and architecture. This project examines the potential to extend their artistic practice into the field of situational experience design, in which the art-works become all-encompassing art-worlds. [Related]