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Immersive Visualizations in Virtual Worlds

The artists and architects of Building w/immaterials1 have a long-standing interest in virtual worlds. We have studied the work that you have diffused about the use of virtual worlds for data visualization. It has become an invaluable resource for our project infra|vergence2, whose objective is to Map the dynamic form of the Metaverse.3 This will be accomplished using data captured from the cumulative network activity of a large community of artists and academics currently active in virtual worlds for both work and fun. Their inworld (virtual worlds, MMOGs), online (social networks, blogging) and real-world locations and activities will be passively and anonymously captured. The data will be interpreted by isolating specific states4 within each world that will reveal their points of vergence.

infra|vergence is both a project that anticipates specific results, as well as a project-based research into the continued relevance of using immersive environments for visualization of data. The visualizations5 that will result from this data will be fabricated/generated inworld, creating tangible objects, events and places capable of composing legible spaces. The experience of these spaces, in the context of the infra|vergence project, will be their dynamic perception as a map revealing the context, scale and locations –inworld, online, geospatial, physical– of the Metaverse. The inworld mapping will be largely based on the work began by Glasshouse by Green Phosphor6, using this technology to:

  • put data and users in the same 3d space;
  • visualization becomes a question of visual perception from a multiplicity of Points-of-view;
  • interaction with community and data in a shared space;
  • the creation of layers of data, images and objects that reveal patterns.

Our continued interest in virtual worlds fulfills our desire to build by inventing new, indigenous usages for virtual world spaces that transcend the obvious metaphoric building of houses, offices, conference centers that populate/pollute virtual worlds like Second Life. It also enhances and informs my real-world activities as an architect, teacher and artist.

Based on recent academic and internet based research, it seems that there has been little, if any, progress concerning scientific visualization in virtual environments since you first became interested in this subject several years ago. We are curious to know if you think this is a misapprehension on our part, if inworld visualization is still being pursued as a credible avenue of data representation or, if in fact, innovation has slowed down. Despite this seeming lull in its development, we will be publishing a paper (in December, 2011) in the journal Metaverse Creativity7 on the infra|vergence project and would like to cite your work, as well as your response to any of the following questions concerning Immersive Visualization using Virtual Environments :

  • What inspired your incipient interest in using virtual worlds as platforms for immersive visualization?
  • What is your current involvement with virtual worlds? with virtual worlds as a platform for immersive visualization?

  1. About Building w/immaterials  ↩
  2. infra|vergence Papers and presentations on this site  ↩
  3. We define METAVERSE as the collective, consensual space created from the convergence of digitally enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual and online worlds. The METAVERSE is composed of the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented realities and network enabled services for communication, collaboration and location. ↩
  4. These states include : comparable activities in different worlds (ie, distance and velocity for comparing mobility in virtual and physical worlds); different activities in the same world; and, simultaneous activities in more than one world. Although activities are not necessarily the same in each world, the qualitative, quantitative, and locational data describing them is compatible and comparable. ↩
  5. Infravergence Visualization References  ↩
  6. Green Phosphor  ↩
  7. Metaverse Creativity  ↩

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