Room for Walking

1999
Steel, aluminum, electronic components
Dimensions variable.
As installed at Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina

Room for Walking is based around the experience of sensing and experiencing a synthetic, virtual space in a physical way. Challenging the perceptual losses inherent to remote sensing, Room for Walking brings the visual content of remotely sensed data to the viewer through a decidedly direct and work-oriented interface.

On entering an almost empty exhibition space, a viewer encounters only a small, wheeled cart. This is the physical interface for viewing and experiencing Room for Walking. The cart resembles, on a slightly larger scale, a child's wagon. At the base of the cart is a servo-controlled projection system, hidden beneath a flat mirror. The viewer is able to move the piece to anywhere in the gallery by means of a handle. Upon moving the cart, an image is projected from inside the cart, with the resultant projection bouncing to the ceiling and back into the mirror.

Room for Walking is created from one still image, unearthed bit by bit. The image itself is a carefully constructed composite of remotely-sensed imagery, consisting of satellite and aerial photography of the gallery location. Stored on a large digital film inside the work, the image is manipulated dynamically by a computer-based servo control.

 

The viewer’s movements are sensed by the control system, which in turn causes the onboard computer to move the position of the internal film over the projection lens. The resulting image makes it appear as if the cart is tracking across an imaginary groundwork. Users of Room For Walking have the sense that they are uncovering a path through the image-mapped gallery floor.

This process of discovery creates a unique visual narrative for each viewer's movements. The archaeological movements of the viewer serve to uncover not only the image itself, but to simulate the experience of moving over an alternate terrain. The travel of the viewer is not unlike that of a spider weaving it’s web, creating a visual narrative that is at once freely defined by his/her movement, but anchored to the site by the larger image itself and the confines of the gallery.