The Thing Growing
Josephine Anstey
Brief description of the work:
Virtual reality drama, designed to engage the user in an emotional relationship with a computer-controlled character in the context of a fictional narrative.
Materials, dimensions, duration:
VR Cave installation, can also be shown on an ImmersaDesk, on a Barco Baron or on Panoram Display system
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):
Documentation of work shown at the 4th Creativity and Cognition Conference Loughborough 2002. Cave prssentation at immedia 2000, Ars Electronica Festival 1999, SIGGRAPH 1999, The Walker Art Museum 1999, Digital Salon 1999, Ars Electronica Festival 1998, and SIGGRAPH 1998
Audience information (size, mode of participation):
A Cave installation is usually planned for one participant at a time, however a small group of non-participating audience members may observe. The user has between two and four trackers attached to head, arms and body, and holds a 3D mouse with three buttons and a joystick for interaction and navigation. Information from the trackers, joystick and buttons is used by the application to figure out where the user is and what they are doing.
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):
Collaboration with Dave Pape, Sam Thongrong, Joe Alexander, Muhammed Ali Khan
Floorplan, scheme:
Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Key theme(s):
Interplay and fusion between performer or participant's physical presence and a perceived reality (projected image, sound); social play
Further context:


Movie clip (270Mb)

The emphasis of The Thing Growing was on developing a psychologically credible character, much less importance was placed on delivering a photorealistic rendering. Sometimes the thing mimics the user, sometimes it asks the user to mimic it. At the climax of the drama the participant needs to decide whether to help or destroy the unnerving character.

"The Thing Growing is an exploration of the mis-use of power and love in relationships, and of our ability to repeat disfunctional relationships trying to "master" them. My hope is that the virtual environment works on two levels - drawing the user into an actual emotional engagement in the melodrama; and promoting a consciousness of how ridiculous and unwinnable this relationship is, that will create the necessary distance for analysing emotional reactions. " (http://www.evl.uic.edu/anstey/THING/act3.html)