Swallows of Capistrano

The group motion of birds is a facinating aspect of Nature. Syncronized movements of birds are as beautiful as they are intriguing to watch. Flocks are made up of individual birds yet they act in concert fluidly. In the Swallows of Capistrano we observe a flock of virtual birds as they occupy their space. We can alter the bird's routine by attracting them with seeds. The Swallows of Capistrano is a virtual space designed for E.V.L's CAVE. The virtual space consists of three elements: a central waterfall like object; four smoking posts and the birds. The waterfall serves as a centering element and potentially, a convienient away out of the space. The smoking posts are locations where the CAVE participant can pick up food for the birds. The birds are independent to the viewer until the viewer gets food from the posts and drops it in the air. The birds then become aware of the food and come towards it.

The intent of this piece was to create a peaceful, contemplative space where the birds seem to live a life of their own unitl the CAVE guest intrudes by introducing food into their world. The interaction is simple enough so that a visitor could navigate the space and feed the birds with little instruction.

The main thrust of my thesis was to create spaces where the viewer is just a temporary visitor. The way the EVE4 show was structured, the CAVE had five to eight visitors every 10 minutes. Each saw the CAVE world in three-D.

Here we are at the atrium, outside the Swallows' space

I let one person navigate through the space using our 3D input device, the 'wand'. The viewer has gone past the columns into the space. The space is made up an outer circle of columns, a central 'monolith', a polyfall, and the Swallows (the bluish triangles ).

The wand has a simple joystick pad. This allowed novice CAVE visitors to easily navigate through the space. Besides watching the Swallows go about their business, the navigator can go up to a feeder and pick up seeds for them.

We navigate up to the feeder to pick up food. The navigator then drops a row of food. It is hard to see without motion but the Swallows are coming for the food.

The Swallows have eaten the entire row except for a few...

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