Media artist and technologist Michael Naimark
has always managed to be well-positioned in seminal developments
of interactive multimedia and virtual reality. During his graduate
student years at MIT in the 1970s, Naimark worked on environmental
art at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and on interactive
media at the Architecture Machine Group. In 1979, he collaborated
on the Aspen Movie Map, the navigable laserdisc tour
through Aspen, Colorado dubbed by MIT Media Lab director Nicholas
Negroponte as "one of the first examples of interactive multimedia."
The Aspen Movie Map was Naimark's first exploration
into what he refers to as "surrogate travel," in which
the viewer is transported virtually to another place. The artist
has since worked on a series of movie maps of such locations
as the wilds of Banff, Canada, the Paris Metro, and the train
system in Karlsruhe, Germany. Naimark eventually landed at Interval
Research in 1992 Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's
Silicon Valley-based think tank where he created
his immersive virtual reality installation Be Now Here.
The work integrates the movement of installation visitors with
a slowly rotating floor spinning in sync with stereoscopic,
panoramic film imagery a surrogate tour of UNESCO World
Heritage endangered sites from around the world.