La Fabrique 00/01/10/11

Artist: fabric | ch , Switzerland,

5.0/5 rating (2 votes)

In 1999, fabric | ch created La Fabrique, a digital gallery built for "the 2nd World" of Canal+ (Le 2ème Monde in French), a predecessor of 2nd Life, but in a digital and realistic copy of Paris. We designed La Fabrique to question this very banal and functional approach of 3d MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games). During three years, it hosted several exhibitions, which speculative topics were relevant in our work around the end of 20th century: La Fabrique 00 - Digital Prosthesis (1999), featured artists and designers interested in net art like Andy Best, Cristiano Bianchi, Jacques Perconte, Maurice Clifford, Steve Guynup, Victoria Vesna & Craig Brown La Fabrique 01 - Recombinant Interiors (2000), featured students of ETHZ (CAAD), directed by Prof. Maia Engeli, Prof. Andrew Vande Moere La Fabrique 10 - Algorithmic Manipulations (2001), featured students of ECAL (MID), directed by Prof. Patrick Keller La Fabrique 11 - Diffused Energies (unreleased), should have featured contemporary artists, writers and architects like Dominique Gonzalez Foerster, Berdaguer & Péjus, Maurice Dantec or LAB[AU] in 2001, but has not been completed up to now. - from their website

Editor's Critique

Here in the online Alternative Fabric exhibition, six online 3D artists were asked to create works for a beautifully abstract multi-user online 3D gallery. The structure abstained from realistic representation and used taut lines and clever angled geometry to create a sense of depth and volume in a subtle white and grey design. Realism was twisted as realistic images of sensual human lips placed on the entrance and exits of enclosed 8 x 8 X 16 meter gallery rooms. Users were greeted with audio kisses as they travelled in and out the spaces.

The artists, despite the kisses and general appreciation of the gallery’s artfulness actively rebelled against the mobile home sized spaces. These artists were used to working in infinitely vast digital spaces. One artist, Andy Best, further filled the small room by placing a fiery digital monster in it and demanded the user negotiate passage past it. I was also an artist, and I added a red button to the small room that dissolved their gallery in favor of a large underwater Zen garden & pool. Users that pushed the red button shared the same space as others in the entire gallery and could see and converse with other users, but they saw and travelled in a completely different looking interactive Zen space. This Zen space would flip back to the original gallery when the red button was pushed again.

A third artist, Cristiano Bianchi set forth a conceptually brilliant head high box that influenced the user's vision once the user's head was inside. Unknown to the user was the fact that Cristiano had lessened the users avatar movement speed. Slowed down, travel in the small box created the impression of a large space whose volume took time to traverse. Armed with the elegant simplicity of the idea, Cristiano coded the work to add ever more boxes / rooms inside of each other and titled the work Infinite Babel.

There is a challenge to holding virtual art works. Most people are unaware of it. Most of the galleries you've likely seen are mimetic (realistic) and that is an echo of a huge problem. Virtual art is not bound by conventions of real world space. The hidden challenge lies in the gallery itself breaking away from mimetic constraints.

Most designers, novices and professionals alike, wonder what to build in virtual space and by default copy reality. They fill their spaces with chairs, tables, and lamps not by choice, but by ignorance. Without a deeper sense of design and purpose, they cling to realism and the siren song of easy immersion. The rocks that they are dragged upon are the never ending demands of total realism, a make-believe place that forgets that virtual reality is already real. There is something dreamlike in the design of this space. The lightness in tone, taut lines, flat geometric surfaces, and icons from 2D interfaces make this a very unique space. The careful viewer will discover a useful design language and the freedom to design purposely without the crutch of realism.

Technology Used

VRML Blaxxun/Bit Management (Multiuser)

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