Aram Bartholl
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Installation in Public Space 2007

Movie 3min: Vimeo or YouTube

or YouTube

More pics of the event on flickr.

A forest, half virtual, half real, on Marienstraße, Second City.

As in most computer games and 3D worlds, objects from the real world are “copied” or simulated in simplified form and in accordance with programming constraints. Textures are applied to 3D structures and, depending on lighting conditions, the images making up the virtual scenery are computed in real time during the game. Most trees are constructed out of two interlocking surfaces, each of which is covered with the same tree-view texture. The transparency of the gaps between the leaves and branches is provided by a so-called alpha channel in the graphics file. From a certain distance and the corresponding perspective, this abstracted form of a tree in virtual space doesn’t stand out as a simplification.

When a player is online in Second Life, all geometric and graphic data relevant to the player’s current position in the virtual world are sent by the provider’s servers via Internet to the player's client processor. Due to this unique feature of Second Life, the current environment of the player's avatar is constructed in slow, step-by-step fashion. First, objects are loaded, then come textures and then high-definition textures. In this transitional phase, you can see what the “substructure” of "realistic" 3D objects in a virtual space actually looks like.

The Tree installation captures this moment: it materializes several trees at various stages of loading in the virtual world and implants them into the Linz cityscape. In a vacant lot on Marienstraße in Second City, typical Second Life trees at various stages of development form a tiny forest. Semi-transparent and printed surfaces shine through and transfer the simplified and abstracted form of the trees from the virtual world into real space.

Tree has been produced by Ars Electronica 2007 and was shown during the festival in different locations.

Thanks to the AEC production team: Martin Honzik, Carola Unterberger Probst and Dietrich Killer among others. Thanks to the support team.

More pics of the event on flickr.

Aram Bartholl 2007

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