A few months back, there were couple of
weeks when Furtherteam members could be seen chair-voguing in concert
with AMAZE's sound responsive, virtual 3D environments. I'd asked Hell's
own (that's hell.com;-) Andy Forbes about this project (which took the
form of an executable download) and he informed me that these had since
evolved into multiAMAZE, a sound sensitive multi-user space.
I suspect that Andy is one of those people who speaks code in his
dreams and whose reveries take place in the land of oversized
where computer control panels and settings are as technically obscure
to him as sand is to a child playing in a sandpit. If I have
of this project, it is its trickiness for non-techno geeks at the point
of entry. This said, the link to multiAMAZE lies in a section of his
website headed RND (research n' development) so I'll just shut
up and be thankful
to have had a chance to explore it in its early stages.
Negotiating the audio device selection process, I set my Dr Octagon
CD playing, chose a color, and entered multiAMAZE. Here I sat,
with an insect-bum's
eye view of an elegantly animated, flying insect reminiscent of the
MAVs (Micro Air Vehicles) I'd just seen scarily represented in
Space' at Birmingham's museum of science and discovery, Think
Tank. Putting dark thoughts of surveillance swarms of spy
flies behind me, I buzzed gaily around, using the arrows on my keyboard
dodging and diving through the jittering palm leaves and the shattered
planes. After I had typed some nonsense into the void, the penny properly
dropped that this space is designed to be teaming with other exploring,
chatting insects. Andy's
introduction to the work on Soundtoys (a website platforming new audiovisual
online and offline) provides useful
and informative context, and he was good enough to respond to some
of my first thoughts
Andy sites Entropy8Zuper's Garden
of Eden as a key inspiration. 'I think Garden of Eden
was a much more interesting variant on picking up and transmogrifying
URLs than others
of the ilk that I've seen since, such as Alex Galloway's Carnivore;
it is honest and up front using the 'random data' of html pages
a new 'Eden'. Other variants I've seen just haven't got the
interpolation between data and what is created. They are too
forced or too
much of a technical exercise for the sake of technique'.
Certainly 'Eden' is accessible to a wider gaming-familiar audience
through the universality of the subject matter and its simple, if dysfunctional,
storytelling, opening up the magic of 3D creation in a virtual space.
'Also I think it was fresh in that it took some of the 3D gaming rules
about how to make things 'realistic' but ignored them where they didn't
work (charging 2D cut outs). I try to follow some of the same paths
in my own 3D stuff. Not be tied to trailing commercial 3D etc.
MultiAMAZE is a visually and spatially complex environment for adventuring;
a move towards facilitating spontaneously generated, collective
ended 'play' as opposed to the restrictions of online gaming. I barraged
Andy with questions about audience sizes and types of use. MultiAMAZE
has some obvious connections with a new platform called the Visitors'
Studio that we've been building at Furtherfield, facilitating live
online multimedia jamming. We are moving towards instigating time-based
global events, so that we can ensure that people get to experience the
simultaneous live multi-user experience. Andy has so far taken a pretty
hands off approach to organizing the mob in any long term sense but the CHAOS show
was successful in providing users with the true multi-user experience; ‘because
with the massive hell.com mailing list (750,000+) you could get people
along to a show in batches of 5000 'on target' and 'on time'. SO then you
could really get a big sense of a crowd’. He identifies these kind
of tactics as crucial to creators of multi-user platforms who are working
without the backing of commerce or large institutions.
He goes on to
say 'I have kind of gone off the idea of user having to add music to
see the piece in full working order. Even if they get this working
they aren't going to be listening to the same sounds as each other.
I have looked at making a piece where you can collectively move about
elements of the 3D environment around to make a collective sound mix.
But I am still thinking on it (plus other people have already had a
go at fairly similar stuff).' In keeping with all truly experimental
work, multiAMAZE presents a few evolutionary cul de sacs while suggesting
a myriad of new avenues of discovery. It presents a possible platform
for carefree, explorations of serious stuff like Reed's law (which
suggests an exponential amplification of ideas and cooperation within
networked groups of shared interest). Perhaps we can look forward to
some spectacular intercontinental synchronized swarming.