Stream deals with issues concerning presence, both physical and remote (virtual), and asks "what if" we all lost the ability to differentiate ourselves and our sense of singularity in the world? What would it be like if we could all see what everybody else can see, from their point of view, and how would we perceive ourselves to "be" as a "stream of conciousness" amongst all the other "streams"? The title also evokes other connotations of the word "stream", such as streaming (downloading) data over the web and the temporality of streams of water and such-like.

Stream is both an unencumbered interactive immersive installation and a web based work. Viewers are confronted with a 3D visualisation of an abstract space composed of texts and what appear to be "will'o'wisp's"; ghost-like apparitions which stream constantly down through the space whilst laterally tracking the viewers position. As the viewer moves around the space the system tracks their position and generates a data-set which allows the 3D scene to dynamically re-map itself such that each "stream" of data functions to recreate the viewers parallax 3D view. This effects the depth of field (focus and transparency) of the texts and the parallax view of the "streams". This happens for all of the viewers such that they are able to see what all the other viewers are seeing and from each others "point of view". The multiple 3D views of the data-space are montaged together into a single shared image, where the actions of any one viewer effects what all the other viewers see.

In the installation version the viewers are surrounded on the walls by large scale projections of the texts and "streams". As they move around the space the system utilises infra-red digital video input to track their position and thus to generate the viewers parallax 3D view as a function of their distance from the projections and the angle of their view. This happens on all the walls and for all the viewers such that all the viewers are able to see what all the other viewers are seeing and from each others "point of view".

The web based version is similar except that the viewers position is generated not by their location in a physical space but by the position of their mouse over the browser window. Whereas in the installation version the viewer is interacting with other physically present viewers in the web version the viewers are interacting with other remotely "present" viewers who are themselves logged onto the work at other remote locations.

However, Stream also functions simultaneously as an installation piece and a web based work. That is, when on exhibition, wherever it is in the world, the installation version is constantly logged onto the internet as well and by using the same TCP/IP protocols as the web based version those viewers who are physically interacting in the real space are also able to see the "presence" of those viewers who are remotely logged on via the web. Inversely, those logged on remotely can see the physical movement of those in the installation space re-mapped as the parallax view of a particular "stream". When more than one installation version is on exhibition at the same time they also function in the same way, in effect creating a shared data-space created and viewed by people who might be at one or more physical locations interacting with the work in its installation form or at any number of remote locations interacting with the work via the web.

Simon Biggs
January 2003