Tower by Simon Biggs with Mark Shovman
Simon Biggs with Mark Shovman developed a virtual interactive artwork in response to this commission. Tower is inspired by the story of the Tower of Babel. Inter-subjective relations are central to this work, which evokes the idea of first-, second- and third-person perspectives. Tower is an interactive work which creates an immersive 3D textual environment combining visualisation, physical interaction, speech recognition and predictive text algorithms. Viewers (or inter-actors) occupy one of three roles: as central inter-actor, wearing a VR head-display, as one of several inter-actors, wearing 3D spectacles, or as spectator, standing outside the interactive zone. The central inter-actor is located at the vertiginous pinnacle of a virtual spiral word structure. When the inter-actor speaks their spoken words appear to float from their mouth and join the spiralling history of previously spoken words. As the uttered word emerges other words, predicted on the basis of statistical frequency within a textual corpus, spring from the spoken word. The second-person inter-actors see words appearing from the first-person inter-actor's mouth and the spiral gradually growing, with the first-person inter-actor at its pinnacle, while the third-person observers stand outside the interactive zone, observing the tableau. As it grows the spiral comes to resemble a Tower of Babel composed of words, spoken and potential.
Simon Biggs was born in Australia in 1957 and moved to the UK in 1986. He has been making art with digital media since 1978, which has been presented at Tate Modern, Centre de Georges Pompidou, Academy de Kunste, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Macau Arts Museum, SF Cameraworks, Walker Art Center and Art Gallery of New South Wales. He has been keynote at many conferences, most recently Cornell University's 2010 Society for the Humanities Conference. Publications include Autopoeisis (with James Leach, 2004), Great Wall of China (1999), Halo (1998), Magnet (1997) and Book of Shadows (1996). He is a Professor at Edinburgh College of Art.
Mark Shovman was born in 1976 in Georgia, USSR, moving to Jerusalem, Israel in 1990. Mark is an interdisciplinary researcher, studying the perception and cognition aspects of information visualisations, computer games, and immersive virtual reality. He is a lecturer in the Institute of Arts, Media and Computer Games, University of Abertay, Dundee.