The White Room

Artist: Wachowski Brothers, United States,

5.0/5 rating 1 vote

One of many movies that involve virtual realiity, the Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix", created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer "Neo" learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the "dream world". (wikipedia)

Editor's Critique

The Matrix film is listed here because of this white room. While much of the movie relies on diegetic metaphors in a narrative frame to shape virtual space, this one scene seems to build on the affordances of digital space. Like Bing or Google it starts as a keyword search, wrapped in a native language phrase. Stacks of 3D weapons sweep in, appearing via an almost PowerPoint-like transition. The search then continues in an exploratory mode through shelves. Keyword and exploration are fundamental terms for scholars of search interfaces.

Going deeper, Weapons, Abstract Rooms with a Chair *and Red/Blue Pills, Dojo's, or a Street with a Woman in Red are possibly search through and loaded into use for the participants.  This range of objects does present presentation challenges, especially for multiple searches with multiple participants. Unlike many Bing and Google searches, Neo found exactly what he needed in the first try.

That just might be the really fictional aspect of this search approach.

In the end, the White Room would be a harbinger of virtual interface, but factually speaking the HCI challenges behind the core ability of loading various 3D works into a scene for an audience has already been addressed. The early work - a virtual performance poem called Laundry Girl - predates the 1999 Matrix movie by two years. The poem was the starting point for the Magic Classroom which is shared in this art database and the Isovista Art Gallery


Technology Used


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