Web3D RoundUp: Looking Backwards and Forwards

Vol.34 No.2 May 2000

Virtual Environments/3DWeb

Kathleen Ruiz
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Figure 1: Sample student work from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The work of my art students at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was presented at the Web3D RoundUP to a huge artistic and technical audience consisting of all types of people ranging from academics to entrepreneurs. The ongoing work is from a class created over three years ago entitled, “Virtual Environments/3D Web.”

The course is an upper-level undergraduate studio projects course where students create interactive virtual environments and visualize three-dimensional conceptual constructs on the World Wide Web and for interactive art installation. The course addresses newly emerging issues of VR as they apply to art theory and practice including 3D narrative, poetic hyper-structures and interactive art game design. Students investigate interactive 3D object creation, spatial and environment simulation and invent “worlds” which contain textures, animations, sound and video clips. Short studies mastering these techniques and building skill sets lead to a student-directed final project, which may, if desired, be collaborative.

The short study sequence ranges from:

  1. Create a 3D object - navigate through it and explore it from all sides inside and out - then create a series of objects within objects and set four different viewpoints - what, if any, context or narrative emerges?
  2. Create and post your 3D portrait or avatar.
  3. Visualize a dream or fantasy or a datascape by creating a spatial environment that uses JavaScript.
  4. Create an interactive 3D map of a real place; embed a trigger to activate a viewer action.
  5. Create a collection of objects and embed sound into two of them - do any new meanings emerge?
  6. Create 3D web on-line instructions for a product, service or other e-commerce exchange.
  7. Create a collaborative world with a fellow student (gaming prototypes are accepted).

Plus, of course, the final project demonstration!

Dialogue of timely issues is encouraged based on readings, videos, CD-ROMs and visits to galleries, museums, WWW sites and alternative spaces. The teaching assistants are very talented emerging artist/programmers Rich Czyzewski and Christina Frolich.

We are working on a project entitled The Landscape of Perception, where we are creating alternative interfaces using common intuitive design. When appropriate, the user is restricted to forward, backward and side motions in one plane. At other times the entire gamut of movement possibilities is enabled. On the high-end level, using a very accurate motion tracker by InterSense, Inc., we have successfully programmed an interface to the blaxxun VRML player, which tracks x, y, z and pitch, yaw and roll.

Kathleen Ruiz
Assistant Professor of Art
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The copyright of articles and images printed remains with the author unless otherwise indicated.