Official Opening & Exhibit of CityCluster

Participants: Alex Hill, Franz Fischnaller

Institutions: F.A.B.R.I.CATORS (Milan, Italy), Master in Multimedia (University of Florence, Italy)

Electronic Visualization Laboratory & City Hall, Palazzo Vecchio Florence

The Official opening on February 7th, 2003 will feature the mayor of the city of Florence On.le Leonardo Domenici, On.le Claudio Martini (RegioneToscana), On.le Elisabe tta Del Lungo (Provincia di Firenze), Mr. Enrico Granara, Consul General of Italy in Chicago, Dr. Anne Rashford Exhibits Director of the Museum of Science and Industry,Chicago, Chuck Thurow Executive Director of Hyde Park Art Center at Chicago, Prof. Thomas a. DeFanti, Director of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and other representatives of both cities, Chicago and Florence, meeting in a networked virtual plaza which overlap the city of Chicago and Florence. Each guest from two remote sites will be represented by an avatar within the virtual environment and shake hands in a symbolic gesture of welcome.

The opening will take place in real-time between Chicago and Florence across two Virtual Reality Networking platforms: the CAVE™ Display System located in the Electronic Visualization Lab at the Illinois University of Chicago, Chicago, USA; and the AGAVE Display System located in City Hall, Palazzo Vecchio Florence, Italy.

Both platforms interconnect and run over high-speed networks, enabling local and remote the visitors to navigate, interact, and communicate with each other in real time through the avatars in a common virtual space. Passive and active stereoscopic glasses allow them to see in 3 dimensions. A simple tracked input device, “the wand,” containing a joystick and 3 buttons, allows the visitor to navigate through the VR space,to manipulate virtual objects and to interact with one another.

Florence City Hall is supporting this cultural and scientific initiative in collaboration with the other local political institutions such us: Tuscany Region and Province of Florence. Institutions whose most distinguished representatives will also be present at the opening event: On.le Claudio Martini (Regione Toscana) and On.le Elisabe tta Del Lungo (Provincia di Firenze). All three institutions will be involved in the promotional and communication campaign.

CityCluster - From the Renaissance to the Gigabits Networking Age - A Virtual Reality & High Speed Networking Project is an innovative technological artistic project in which Tele-Immersion, collaborative virtual reality, high speed networking, culture, history, communication, and art are integrated into one unique piece. The visitors can experience a thrilling interactive journey departing from the time of the Renaissance until arriving to the super broadband Networking and Electronic Age, breaking the barrier of time and space in real time. For this project two Virtual Reality environments were created: Florence metaphorically represents the “Renaissance Age”, the other related to Chicago representing the “Gigabits Age”. Each virtual city is inhabited by a group of avatars: David, Venus, and Machiavelli in Florence, and Mega, Giga, and Nety in Chicago.

The official opening will take place in Palazzo Vecchio, one of the most important historical buildings of the Renaissance, located in the center of Florence, where the city Major has his political and cultural offices. Palazzo della Signoria, or Palazzo Vecchio, as it appears today, is the result of at least three successive building stages between the 13th-16th centuries: the later restructuration carried out by Vasari, after the coming to power of Cosimo I de’ Medici, who moved into the palace with his family. Although the palace today contains the offices of the City Council, much of it can still be visited.

After the official opening the VR-Networking exhibit will open to the public, from Sunday 9th to Tuesday 11th, in the Museum of Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Constructed by the architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo who started building it in 1444 for Cosimo de’ Medici, the museum of Palazzo Medici Riccardi is situated along a strategic point of the historic centre of Florence. It is one of the most prestigious and famous Renaissance buildings throughout Europe and hosts very special exhibit presentations. The press conference will take place on January 6th at the sala conferenze - Giunta Regionale Toscana, Florence, Italy.

The sponsor for the event in Florence is DELTA COMMUNICATION.


Date: February 7, 2003

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