Common Playground

Common Playground Marika Kajo, Michael Johansson cast01 // Living in Mixed Realities Conference on artistic, cultural and scientific aspects of experimental media spaces. September 21-22, 2001 Sankt Augustin (Bonn, Germany) Organiser: MARS-Exploratory Media Lab In this paper we present our experiences in using a computer game platform as a development tool in the areas of art, architecture and drama. Our approach has been to find ways to do quick prototyping and testing of ideas in a virtual space. We strive at building general applications independent of the 3D platform used for the specific case rather than getting stuck in a certain game engine or technological generation. The focus has been on the constant dialogue between the concept and its form. Today’s Computer games seem very fit for our purpose. Projects presented run at Space respectively Narrativity Studio, Interactive Institute in Malmö. Keywords: multi user, art, architecture, drama, computer games, virtual space, avatar, body movement, collaborative story telling 1. Half-Life – a creative environment? During the last couple of years we have looked at the game industries in comparison with the more military/industrial oriented VR market. We have also followed the development of the wrml standard for communicating 3D models on the Internet. Both these tracks has in more than one way led us to the enlightenment that there maybe other ways to work with 3D as a communication tool in a multi user environment. The criteria that I was looking for were that it should support the following features: Multi-user environment at least 16 users simultaneously on line Hardware graphics support such as textures, dynamic lightning, bump mapping, displacement mapping and other real-time effects. Support for both first and third person view Communication tools voice or at least chat. Server management – to be able to set up your own server and manage it as         you want – giving users different access and privileges.         A graphics editor available for both building worlds and manages content. If possible access to source-code or even a SDK. At Malmö University K3 – in one of the interaction design master classes we started our first Hal-Life projects. In one of the so-called research themes in Digital art the students where introduced to a series of paintings from the late 1800, which all communicated a certain mood. The artist often has a close relationship with both the tools and the material that they are working with. In the connection or confrontation with the material new ideas and decisions takes place constantly. In this situation of give and take you soon learn what limitations the material and tools in this case the software set up for you as designer. But it also reveals possibilities and directions you couldn’t imagine beforehand. So instead of letting the students observe and evaluate a 3Dgame or a level designer or a graphical artist’s work. They where forced to go into a new domain, learn new software and try to communicate something as hard as a certain mood in space. The goal was to build a room or a world that communicated a certain mood. The student was introduced to a game level design program called worldcraft. They had 2 days of training and then the spent about 8 to 12 days building their worlds. The where also introduced to different websites dedicated to Half-Life and Half-Life editing. They were encouraged to take part of the several discussions list about Half-Life editing and to download scripts and models to use in their work and part of the learning process. The overall impression by the students was that the editor wasn’t hard to learn but the editor (WorldCraft 2.2) had the computers go mad at first. But as the students gained experience the crashes came more seldom and in the end the actually felt that they could work around most of the shortcomings of the editor. They find that when they got a grip of the editor it was fun an engaging to work with. At the presentation the students where allowed to play each world and make notes of what feeling the experienced playing the other students worlds. Surprisingly about 80% of the students manage to communicate their intentions. To see students with no experience with architectural design so easily take control of the designing these virtual spaces in such rich and interactive way, led us to choose hl as our development tool for the projects to come. 2.1 Half-Life – a rapid modeling tool? One of ForeSites project goals is to integrate our experiences from collaborative spatial and architectural design using Virtual Reality into a digital modeling and visualization tool based on Half-Life’s game-engine. We have therefore developed a couple of prototypes for rapidly designing 3D environments in 2D space. Johan Torstensson a student at Malmö University K 3 developed the first version of the prototype called hardhat designer. In its first appearance it allowed the user to access a small database of 2D elements, which then could be distributed on a 2D surface. On that surface the user could divide the space with walls in different lengths, insert windows and doors etc, and furnish it with different items as chairs, sofas, and tables. A set of eight prefabricated “placeholders” was also introduced to mark different objects or events. The detailing and visual quality of the 3D/VR worlds seems to be adequate for the chosen tasks. The 2d layout was then compiled into a lightened 3D/Virtual Reality world in Half-Life. Here the user could navigate trough their newly constructed space. 2.2 ForeSite Designer & Playgrounds Next step was to develop the Hardhat concept further into something called ForeSite Designer where you could create different kinds of Playgrounds. The basic idea was the same but some new tools for rotating, multi-selecting and deleting objects was introduced. The size of the playground could also be varied according to task. The possibility to use a background image was also introduced. But the new and main focus was to investigate different kinds of representations both […]

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World disc

 Worlddisc made for the ideals spaces workinggroup for the 16th Architectural Biennale in Venice 2016.

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This is the site of artist and researcher Michael Johansson. Born in sweden, educated in Denmark; Royal academy of fine arts mst of my professional life I have worked in the area of space and spatial creation and lived abroad in China from 2007-2014 which gave me many new perspectives. Since 2011 I am Artist and Associate professor in digital media at Kristianstad University. On this blog  I gather and present all of the different projects and interests of mine and try to establish a overview of, and access my work. In my own practice, I always had a very close relationship with the material that I have used for investigating and executing my ideas. In all my works, no matter what stuff I have chosen for its realization, the establishing of a ‘substantial’ dialogue has been of uttermost importance. There should be no difference between the critical mass of the idea and the final outcome, the artwork as such, but an interwoven unity between theoretical and formal matter. Since 1984, the computer has played a major role in enabling precisely that. In my art practice and research I have since 2005 started to connect and shape a model for something called “a different story”. This brings together artistic expression in every form, interaction design and computational models into a common framework. Since it is a complex an in depth multi and cross disciplinary effort it has taken a lot of time putting this forward for me, and it´s still in the making. You can follow the development here on the website in several of the articles. When I started to move away from mostly painting I got an interest in other tactile and sensory activities – food and wine, cooking and wine tasting. What i like about this is that when it comes to wine there is a language for talking about taste which is not very common in other areas, it brings together practice with knowledge in a social context. Cooking and the art of writing and reading recipes, executing and reflecting in often complex and technical advanced use of kitchen equipment. This is very similar how I go about working with my own works of art. A lot of hands on experiments, parallel reading and knowledge seeking and finally a description of how to conduct the artwork itself described as a recipe or algorithm.

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