straight up
"It is my belief that computer and media technology will continue to have an increasingly profound effect on everyone on the planet... and if artists don't jump in and proactively help shape these powerful new tools, it will be left by default to advertisers, the military, organized religion, and sex peddlers."
Bob Mohl demonstrating the Aspen Movie Map touchscreen

previous next

Click to play video  Demonstration of the Aspen Movie Map

Michael Naimark | Surrogate Travel <1979>

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.