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ImmersaDesk Virtual Reality Compilation

Virtual reality creates environments where the meaning resides primarily in its immersive and interactive qualities. These interactive works engage the viewer in experiences that break the traditional boundaries of art, by actively involving participants in a series of visually compelling environments. Virtual reality can extend the traditional arts as a medium which encourages active participation of the viewer in the creative process.

In this work, virtual reality becomes accessible to digital artists through the ImmersaDesk, a projection-based, drafting-table-sized virtual reality system. The size and position of the screen give a sufficiently large wide angle view so the viewer feels fully immersed in the visual scene. Head tracking allows the participant to experience a first-person view as opposed to the third-person view that is experienced with other visual media. The hand position is tracked by the "Wand" and provides the main device with which participants can manipulate the scene. Additionally, the area around the desk is surrounded by a directional sound system. The physical installation of the ImmersaDesk creates an evocative setting for viewers to experience and participate in the worlds that unfold before them. This virtual reality system provides an excellent platform where aesthetic and conceptual concerns merge with high resolution display technology, network connectivity, and advanced visualization techniques. Moreover, participants at remote sites have the opportunity to explore the same worlds and interact with each other.

This work continues a series of collaborative events organized by the artists and scientists of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL). It involves integrating the diverse interests of EVL to create an interactive and distributed participatory theater. The ImmersaDesk stages such "acts" as the Circus, a combination of live performance and vivid imagery of circus tents, in their unique virtual reality interpretation. Other ImmersaDesk applications simulate worlds where organic shapes can transform themselves into characters, where sculptural knots attempt to untangle, or where flocks of birds synchronize their movements in concert. The ImmersaDesk may be experienced as an installation that reflects the physical environment, or as an opportunity for young participants to interact directly with the virtual landscape and sculpt stories, in collaboration with other remote, human or artificial agents. The ImmersaDesk becomes a pinball machine, a mini-golf course, or a ski slope. It can take us on an interplanetary tour, or inside a seemingly realistic residence that hides passages to fictional worlds. It can let us play with the filament of a light bulb, or engage in a conversation with a ball of heads.

The fusion of disciplines is the basis for this unique collaborative effort. It is a model in which technology and art unite to create highly interactive and immersive virtual environments.


Using LCD stereo glasses, head and hand tracking, the ImmersaDesk is a projection-based virtual reality system allowing relatively unencumbered group viewing of the virtual reality environment. The ImmersaDesk features a 4 x 5-foot rear-projected screen at a 45-degree angle. The size and position of the screen give an immersive wide angle view and the ability to look down as well as forward. The resolution is 1024 x 768 at 96Hz. It also features a directional sound system.

The Electronic Visualization Lab can provide:

SIGGRAPH96 is to provide (these items are open to negotiation):

Electrical requirements:
There are two possible electrical configurations.

Space Requirements

The ideal location for the Immersadesk is a separate viewing room or a space accomodated by movable walls to create a partitioned area. The ImmersaDesk proper occupies an 8 x 8 foot square space. A 3' x 5' area adjacent to the Immersadesk is required to install and house the necessary computer hardware. An 8 foot space directly in front of the ImmersaDesk will accommodate ten viewers comfortably. A theater black environment provides ideal viewing of the applications which are enhanced with the sound and performance of technology and personnel. Due to the amount of equipment and supplies that will be combined with this exhibition, ample storage accomodations should be made available.


Debra Lowman-Melchionda

Margaret Dolinsky & Grit Sehmisch

The Circus

Milana Huang

To see other images click here.

Group Profile

The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) advances research in computer graphics and interactive techniques through its unique interdisciplinary blend of engineering, science, and art; its students receive MS, PhD and MFA degrees through the UIC Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department and the UIC School of Art and Design. Most recently recognized for its work in virtual reality with the introduction of the CAVE(TM) virtual reality theater in 1992, EVL has a history of innovative contributions to the computer graphics field.

Last November, EVL organized and staged major events at ACM/IEEE Supercomputing '95. In 1994, the Lab organized the SIGGRAPH 94 VROOM event, a virtual reality exhibition highlighting computational science and engineering applications. Additionally, EVL has been, and continues to be, a major influence on the advancement of electronic art and entertainment. In May 1995, EVL organized a very successful Electronic Visualization Event #4 that featured artistic virtual reality demonstrations, video art, 2D and 3D computer-generated art, and installations.

Jim Barr
Keith Beu
Jeffery Brooks
Drew Browning
Orlando Carnate
Tom Coffin
Alan Cruz
Marek Czernuszenko
Greg Dawe
Margaret Dolinsky
Terry Franguiadakis
Robert Grzeszczuk
Yun-wen Hsu
Milana Huang
Joe Insley
Ka Leung Jark
Andrew Johnson
Louis Kauffman
Johnny Lawson
Jason Leigh

Bor-Tyng Lin
Gary Lindahl
Debra Lowman-Melchionda
Eran Miller
Alan Millman
Gary Minnix
Dave Pape
Kyoung Park
So Yen Park
Claire Prucher
Maggie Rawlings
Joe Reitzer
Maria Roussos
Dan Sandin
Grit Sehmisch
Vincent Shine
Marcus Thiebaux
Bovornpol Thiensiri
Selena Tramayne
Christina A. Vasilakis
Margaret Watson

Electronic Visualization Laboratory
851 South Morgan Street
Room 1120
Chicago, IL 60607-7053
+1.312.413.7585 fax