Exploded Views is an interactive installation whereby three participants run on individual conveyor belts. They physically move themselves through both an interactive audio-environment and interactive imagery projected at the front of the belts. The action of the observer’s body is the determining factor for setting the 3D images into motion. This physical effort made by the viewer in turn reveals several cityscapes from all over the world.

Exploded Views is pre-eminently an installation in which the artist’s personal interest in urban and global developments is combined with a local request for site-specific work. The development of Exploded Views is subdivided into phases. During the first stage, the soft- and hardware platform and the first game level was developed specifically for the city of Florence.

Depending on the location where the installation is exhibited, the general topic 'globalisation and metropolitan life' is openly suggested. By keeping this theme in mind and furthermore, zooming in on the local appearance of the city where the exhibition takes place, a rich composition of cities will be assembled after a period of time. Every city becomes a ' level ' or chapter of the collection. In Florence, the focus was on the incessant growing number of tourists that violate public life and especially the beauty of this Renaissance city in its entirety. Due to this increased transient mobility, the city has been transformed into a sort of express-tourist Disney World and correspondingly, scaring the locals away from the city centre. Florence has 12 million tourists per year compared with a meagre population of 355,000.

exploded views
exploded views

Just like the recent Run Motherfucker Run installation, Exploded Views combines the physical act of running with both interactive imagery and a spatial setting that results in a powerfully absorptive experience. The total event of running and the persistent possibility of being thrown from the conveyor belt is not only a testimony to the adrenaline kicks we search for in order to remove the boredom from our lives, but also a reference to the modern-day health culture that surrounds us. More importantly though, it is a mirror of the disconnection we feel in the previously described city locations.

Three conveyor belts are placed side by side before a large screen: the activity of the middle belt is measured by means of sensor-techniques and this activity determines how the entire installation is navigated. In other words, the two outside conveyor belts and the participants on these two belts have to imitate the movement of the participant middle belt.

The city landscapes are scanned with a totally new 3D scanning technique that creates an unusually surreal and dreamlike atmosphere and exceeds any currently available game aesthetics. The 3D scans are literally built-up from an enormous pool of photographs using the 'Structure From Motion' and the 'Multi-View Stereo' algorithms developed by Noah Snavely‚ (University of Washington) and Michael Goesele, (Technische Universitaet Darmstadt).

exploded views screengrabs

The basic development in the imagery of Exploded Views is the transposition from global to local, macro to micro and vice versa. The transposition between these two viewpoints is directly related to the running speed: by running fast the view changes in an exponential way to a bird’s eye perspective; at a slow walk the view returns to normal.

Exploded Views only finds its true significance when combining image with audio. The 3D visuals of Exploded Views are totally void of people, emphasising the emotional emptiness of the public-space. The sound used in the 3D surroundings consists of spatially placed sound sources and, in contrast to the imagery, suggests events of human activity. Therefore the user on the conveyor belt navigates from sound source to sound source in an obviously deserted surrounding but where human presence or activity still ‘resonates'. The foley for the Florence level consists entirely of documentary style audio. Over 250 field recordings were made inside the noisy city of Florence and then positioned on the 3D map, creating an extremely detailed micro-cosmic sound experience.

The first version or the work Exploded Views, Remapping Firenze, was made especially for the CCCS. It is the first of a series of works by leading international artists who have been invited to Florence to create site-specific works that reflect the diverse realities of this city.

Exploded Views – Remapping Firenze
Produced by: Marnix de Nijs, Rotterdam; Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina (CCCS), Firenze
Co-produced by: The Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts, Amsterdam
Audio-design: Boris Debackere, Antwerp
Scene Reconstruction: Structure From Motion: Noah Snavely (University of Washington), Multi-View Stereo: Michael Goesele, Sebastian Koch (Technische Universität Darmstadt)
3D authoring and game implementation: Blender Institute Project Apricot, Amsterdam
Game Engine: Crystal Space
Technical Production assistance and material Production: Prof. Antonio Glessi; the students of the Master in Communication Design, ISIA (Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche) Firenze
For the research in Florence special thanks go to: Maurizio Bossi, Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario G.P. Vieusseux

Marnix de Nijs © 2019