Artica Intergalaxia Icon
Artica Intergalaxia

Concept: Margaret Watson
Design and Implementation: Margaret Watson
Sound Composition: Joe Reitzer
Creation Period: Late 1995 to Early 1996

Current Exhibit: Amorphous Cubes

The Gallery (Artica Intergalaxia)

Artica Intergalaxia is an intergalactic gallery containing an exhibition of virtual reality art entitled Amorphous Cubes. The idea behind the exhibition space was to create a virtual experience for the immersant not only in viewing the art work, but also by creating a journey to each one of the four works of art. Because virtual art work is of a spatial nature, icons of the four works of art are exhibited in individual temples.

Artica Intergalaxia Gallery

The type of architecture was chosen to create a space in which viewers subconsciously are aware that they are within a gallery setting. The creation of the architecture in space places a known and familiar structure in a setting that could not ordinarily exist in reality.

Viewing the Exhibition

The exhibition begins in the central temple, with the immersant choosing one of four paths to the cubes. As the immersant nears a temple containing a cube, he/she experiences a symbol of the art work. The cubes are simply icons of the virtual experience. They were created in response to working with the CAVE, mimicking its cube-like structure. The immersant experiences the virtual art by entering the icon.

Center of Artica Intergalaxia Gallery Approaching Blue Liquid Cube Art Inside Blue Liquid Cube Art

Navigation within the exhibition space is two-dimensional. Within the virtual art work, the immersant is offered the ability to fly or rise vertically within the space. This change in navigation was created to allow the immersant the opportunity to experience the art work from a different perspective. It was also designed as an alternate form of exploration to common navigational interaction within reality. Within this navigational scenario, exit from the work is through the bounds of the amorphous cube.

Amorphous Cubes

The Amorphous Cubes are environments in which the immersant experiences layers of abstract, yet recognizable organic substances. The ideas for the environments developed from a series of videos of abstract water reflections that were created in 1994-95. The video imagery had a power of mesmerization and immersion on an emotional and mental level. The art in Artica is an attempt to recreate this experience in the 3D space of the CAVE. In the CAVE, immersion can not only occur mentally and emotionally, but also on a seemingly physical level. Because of the abstraction, the virtual experience magnifies the serenity experienced in a naturalistic setting. Reflections and abstractions encompass the user rather than solely existing as light created illusions on surfaces.

Inside Green Plant Cube Art Inside Gold Light Cube Art Inside Pink Cloud Cube Art Inside Blue Liquid Cube Art

Abstracted from nature, the environments are based on plants, light, clouds and water. As a virtual interpretation of reality, they animate and organically move, as if they were virtually alive.

Technical Information

Artica Intergalaxia was created using C programming, IrisGL (later converted to OpenGL), VSS and the CAVE library. It was designed for an ImmersaDesk or a CAVE VR system.


Artica was exhibited publicly, both on video and on an ImmersaDesk, at SIGGRAPH 96 in New Orleans. At SIGGRAPH, it was shown on video in the Computer Animation Festival. As a virtual environment, it was part of a collaborative EVL exhibit entitled Neither Here Nor There that was shown in both The Digital Bayou and The Bridge Art Show. For this exhibit, it was shown both as an individual work, but also as a part of CAT (CAVE All Terrain), a shared context software environment that integrated several VR Projects at EVL into one application. The CAT project, entitled The Oort Continuum, was created as the opening exhibition for the CAVE at the Ars Electronica Center. The AEC CAVE opened during the Ars Electronica Festival in 1996. Today, Oort continues to be a part of its permanent exhibition.

Artica Intergalaxia in The Oort Continuum

Other exhibitions of Artica have included The 6th International Student Film Festival in Tel Aviv, Israel (video); the ISEA 96 Art Exhibition in Rotterdam, Netherlands (video); The Total Museum Conference in Chicago (CAVE) and the VENTE Exhibition Hall 1997-98 exhibit at Fujita Research in Tokyo, Japan (video).

© 1996 Margaret Watson