by Richard Brown, an interactive painting : a dreamlike world ...
Mimesia describes a dreamlike hyper-real artificial world,
displayed on a large screen LCD/Plasma panel as an interactive painting,
it is navigated through head gestures via an IntelligentCamera interface,
and rendered in real-time using Games Engine Technologies.
Images and video
Interactivity using VisualMouse, Games Engine: PowerRender , C, PR tools, 3DS. DirectX
Mimesia is an interactive painting that draws the viewer into a dream-like flow of unfolding narrative. As if in a dream, the viewer can look around but cannot control what will happen next. The work incorporates paradigms from painting, film and gaming, to produce a work that incorporates aspects all of these genres whilst at the same time being something else entirely different.
Mimesia is not a painting though at first glance looks like one, it is not a film, for there is no story, it is not a game, there is no quest - it is an evocation of a dream, an unfolding memory.
Mimesia using the visual effects of games technology to produce a kitsch realism, whilst referencing the cinematic floating steady-cam to create the dreamlike sense of presence and not being.
I believe the work opens up a range of possibilities for new types of experience, works of contemplation, works that suggest and evoke in subtle and deep psychological ways. Mimesia is a first step in this direction, having a specific style and set of reference points, there are many points in which mimesia will expand, offering new pathways into other evocations, dark tunnels, mythic realms and journeys through the seas of unconsciousness.
Key to these realisations is the notion of mimesis, the creation of illusions that mimic nature, a form of technological artifice, so common in modern society we scarcely notice its ubiquitous presence. We fall for the lifestyle dreams offered to us through advertising, we are seduced by its promises of happiness, love, beauty, wealth and power. Virtual Reality offered us the idea of being able to live in our dreams, gaming acts as a cathartic escapism, mimesia draws upon the mythic qualities of the narrative painting in an attempt to awaken the dreams within.
Mimesia using the ever increasing rendering powers of realism through the 3D graphics card accelerator and associated software rendering technologies such as DirectX. Only a few years ago the effects possible today would have only been possible on high end graphics workstations, now they are available through consumer games consoles such as the X-Box and PlayStation. The software and production techniques used to realise mimesia are the same as in commercial games. 3D models are created in 3D Studio Max by Discrete, a tool with its origins in Computer Aided Design as a means of visualising products. These models are imported into the games engine, a sophisticated high level operating system that provides the artist programmer with a range of effects to create landscapes, sound, lighting, texturing, animation, special effects such as explosions, clouds, water etc. After looking at many commercial games engines such as Lithtec, Virtools, RenderWare, Unreal, Gmax, and OpenSource engines such as CrystalSpace and Blender; the PowerRender engine was chosen for its affordable licensing deal, the powerful range of realistic effects (such as the landscape generator, water and clouds) and its wide range of support tools.
To completely break away from the classic joystick mode of interaction with gaming, I researched a method by which the viewers head would control the interaction, this being another key element in produce a dream like sense of immersion with the work. The technology I have used was originally intended to assist people who could not physically use a mouse to operate a computer. It is called VisualMouse and has since found its way into gaming applications.
These are still early days, it is by no means easy to create a work such as mimesia, the tools are complex and programming skills are still required. As with Macromind Director, these tools are evolving, enabling the task of creating virtual worlds such as mimesia to be much more within the reach of the artist. The new genre of machinima highlights how the tools of the gaming industry are being appropriated by filmmakers and artists.
R.Brown, December 2003
Since writing this, I understand that the Unreal engine has become freely available for non-commercial projects.
Also worth investigating is the affordable Torque engine...
For a database of experimental artworks using games engines see SelectParks website
Details of the machinima genre can be found at the Machinima website
House of Tomorrow Images and video
Melbourne, September-October 2003
Experimenta is currently touring House of Tomorrow, Australia 2004-2005
SmallWorlds group show, Sydney, UTS Gallery 14Oct-7 Nov 2003.
smallworlds exhibition information PDF