A Virtual Sojourn

Tamiko Thiel's 'The Travels of Mariko Horo' is truly a multimedia project. The whole thing revolves around a travel narrative centered on a character appropriately named Mariko the Wanderer. Mysteriously hailing from a period somewhere in the mammoth range of the 12th to the 22nd centuries, Mariko's journey involves moving West from Japan, in search of a Buddhist paradise. Her successful quest is marked by the additional discovery of a dark purgatorial space. All of the character's memories--both visual and textual--are rendered in 'The Travels of Mariko.' Users become the lead character, seeing the world through her eyes as a joystick steers them through this fictional space. The actual project is doing a bit of touring, premiering at this week's ISEA festival, in San Jose, before moving on to Munich, in the form of a dance. Mariko's journals have been published, in print, and the choreographed and VR versions of her story are enhanced by complexly beautiful imagery and rich meditations on the merger of Eastern and Western music, with a score that combines sampled and computer-generated sound. You can download an interactive VRML / X3D demo and start your own to sojourn to paradise, today. - Irene Wu