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Rockwell Group, in collaboration with Jones + Kroloff, designed “Hall of Fragments,” the entrance installation to “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building,” the main exhibition for the 2008 11th annual Venice Architecture Biennale. Passage through the installation disengages visitors from the bricks and mortar of Venice and connects them to the alternative world of “Architecture Beyond Building” through a immersive and interactive environment constructed from iconic films.

Principals: David Rockwell with Casey Jones and Reed Kroloff
Design Team: Tucker Viemeister, James Tichenor, Joshua Walton, Zach Gage, Keetra Dixon, Craig Negoescu, Thomas Haggerty

Films project alternate architectural universes. These are places free from the material and gravitational restraints of corporeal life. There we can dodge bullets, leap across tall buildingsin a single bound, and see houses drop on unsuspecting witches with no damage to the young girl inside. This is truly architecture beyond building. It is a place bound only by imagination and the limits of projection technology.

This interactive installation sets the stage for “Architecture Beyond Building” by exploring how cinema’s freedom from physical restraints influences perception and behavior. We built the immersive environment out of images from iconic films and present themso that the visitor’s behavior influencesthe cinema experience: the motion of the visitors affects the sound and imagery on two curving screens in a real-time simulacrum of the feedback loop between cinema and architecture.

As the visitors move between the screens, images from films will appear in a cascade of fragments. We based that waterfall on algorithms coupled with motion sensor devices, so that a visitor can make film fragments grow into columns of three-dimensional textures whose shapes may expand and overlap those from other visitors to create larger figures and infinite variations. Backstage, behind each screen, visitors find a pool of smaller screens showing thirty film clips that feed the content of the installation. Each visit and each movement will create a distinctive sequence out of a familiar set of images. The resulting architectures are not prescriptive. They instead offer opportunities.

We developed custom software using Openframeworks, an open development environment for C++. It uses 6 Mac Pro Computers, Mac Mini for Sound, 2 Mantis MG video servers, Media Matrix Digital Signal processor, 6 firewire AVT Guppy IR cameras, and custom IR filtered lighting. In the projection each point is given an initial x,y and z coordinates and wanders within a limited area. The points uses Delaunay triangulation to find their nearest neighbor points in the environment and send lines to those points. Those lines solidify and form the faceted planes that the video textures are mapped onto. During the Crescendo moment the projection mesh is surfaced with a faceted terrain that maps the pixels of the films to the facets of the surface.