Doctor of Creative Arts
Faculty of Creative Arts
Rhodes, Hilary Frances, Exploration without boundaries: virtual voyages into virtual landscapes, D.C.A. thesis, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, 2003. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/350
Exploration Without Boundaries is a visual digital media exploration reflecting industrial, technological and environmental change over time. It comprises an interactive CD ROM, a book, and a gallery installation. Exploration Without Boundaries is distinctive in that it describes natural and imagined worlds in the virtual domain with materials described entirely by means of algorithms and fractals, rather than from photographic textures. This document is an exegesis that assists the viewer in understanding the complexities of Exploration Without Boundaries and to place it in an historical and social context. It addresses aspects of particular theories and issues pertinent to the work, for instance aesthetics, fine art, mathematics and cultural studies. I consider aspects of utopian and dystopian environments in the historical context of virtual reality, its technology and literature. Importantly I consider the relationship of the real and virtual worlds, and provide an overview of Land Art, an influential art movement of the 1970s, by comparing the creation of spatial constructs in the real world with generating land forms in the virtual world, and place Exploration Without Boundaries in the context of art work in the landscape. In particular, I present two case studies of noted Land Art artists, Robert Smithson (1938-1973 US) and Richard Long (b. 1945 UK). Navigation, mapping and orientation are all important concepts in Exploration Without Boundaries, therefore I provide information concerning topographic and diagrammatic mapping as they relate to computer games and environments. Also I compare the environments of Exploration Without Boundaries with those of two other inter active CD ROMs: Eve (1996) by Peter Gabriel, (b. 1950 UK) and Puppet Motel (1995) by Laurie Anderson (b. 1947 US). Neither the process nor the production of Exploration Without Boundaries can be separated from its technological origins, therefore I discuss work done by Benoit Mandelbrot (b. 1924 Warsaw, now resident in USA), Kenton Musgrave (b. 1955, USA) and Eric Wenger, (b. 1960 France, now resident in USA) in developing the tools for synthesising mathematically described textures. In an autobiographical context, I examine some of the historical and theoretical aesthetics underlying Exploration Without Boundaries, and describe the landscape as seen from an ironic post-modern view of the colonial perspective. Finally, I provide a description of the content of both the gallery installation and the interactive CD ROM and the structure and symbolism of Exploration Without Boundaries.