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PixFlow showing images of the visitors Soundshakes (back) and Aquphones (front) The cy-bee creator webpage the pool simulation running with vvvv30alpha1 Drift Cyberhelvetia  Cy.Bee Constructor Cyberhelvetia Cybermovie "Drift" Cyberhelvetia Technology
Cyberhelvetia
 
MESO Digital Interiors GmbH
Gutleutstraße 96
60329 Frankfurt am Main
++49 69 2 40 00 30
ow@meso.net
  • Project: Cyberhelvetia
  • Date: May 2002 - October 2002
  • Client: Credit Suisse Group
  • Contractor: 3deluxe / System Modern GmbH
  • Location: Biel, Switzerland
  • Tasks: Media Systems Design, Realization

The Cyberhelvetia pavilion was situated on the Forum of the Biel-Bienne Arteplage at the Expo02 in switzerland 2002. Designed as a traditional Swiss bathing resort, its architecture symbolises a place where people meet and communicate.
The familiar exterior leads you to expect a familiar interior – a swimming pool like the one which was right in this very place more than a hundred years ago. But times have changed: people can communicate at many different levels without meeting each other in person, irrespective of where they are or what language they speak. Instead of bathing in real water, the bathers in the Cyberhelvetia pavilion can immerse themselves in the complex atmosphere of an expanded virtual reality. Instead of a swimming pool, they find a mysterious, glowing glass cube that lights up the entire area. The designer group 3deluxe was made responsible for all of the interior design

MESO Digital Interiors was contracted by 3deluxe to develop various interactive games matching the mood of the swimming pool. The result was a fluid composition of interactive situations consisting out of 18 projectors, 23 computers and numerous sensors dispersed in the room. The system reacted to sound, motions, voice and even the weather outside. The exhibition was open for five month and had 750 000 visitors.

The glass pool in the middle of the exhibition replaces the real swimming pool.

It is filled with virtual water which is enriched by the exhibition visitors both on the spot or on the Internet with imaginative lifeforms. The reciprocal interaction between the real and virtually present people and the artificial lifeforms constantly creates new atmospheric images on the pool’s surface. Along both long sides of the pool there are comfortable seating facilities for the bathers who shape the inner life of the pool in their common game.

The Aquaphone, a cross between tin can telephone and a stethoscope, allows verbal communication through to the other side of the glass pool. It consists of a key and a talk/listen component. Anyone holding the Aquaphone against the glass cube’s side wall and speaking into it creates word bubbles in the pool’s virtual water. These can then again be opened and heard at the opposite location with the Aquaphone.

In addition to the lifeforms created at the pool side there is another species stirring in the pool: the Cy.Bees. These are created in the Internet community and are sent to the exhibition with a message by their creators. The shy Cy.Bees congregate on one corner of the glass block and crawl on to the bather’s hand if he keeps it still for long enough. That moment is captured in a photograph and the picture is sent back to its creator via e-card on to the Internet. This is a bi-directional communication between real and virtually present individuals, between the exhibition and Internet, an encounter in two worlds.

A peaceful lounging area provides space for relaxation and direct encounters between people, while people can watch everything that is going on from two galleries upstairs.

Cyberhelvetia Cy.Bee Constructor

The Cy.Bee constructor web page and the Rendez-vous camera.

Cyberhelvetia Cybermovie "Drift"

A synchronized nonvirtual water ballet.

Cyberhelvetia Technology

Technical Background for the Cyberhelvetia Exhibition.

Other attractions in the pool

Lifeforms

A digital sea snake darts around following the visitor’s finger movements on a luminous glass surface, which is integrated in the centre console of the bench. The activity and dynamics of the guests playing are thus transferred to the pool’s glass body. Left alone, the snake gets a dynamic of its own and starts to dabble.

Soundshake

Communication between the Aquaphones can be tracked with the Soundshake. Moreover the speech transfer is overlaid with the sounds from the inside of the pool to illustrate the path of the message through the virtual water. There’s more: when bathers pass on the mobile loudspeaker to their neighbours other sounds are composed and modified by the movement of the loudspeaker.

Rendez-vous

In addition to the lifeforms created at the pool side there is another species stirring in the pool: the Cy.Bees. These are created in the Internet community and are sent to the exhibition with a message by their creators. The shy Cy.Bees congregate on one corner of the glass block and crawl on to the bather’s hand if he keeps it still for long enough. That moment is captured in a photograph and the picture is sent back to its creator via e-card on to the Internet. This is a bi-directional communication between real and virtually present individuals, between the exhibition and Internet, an encounter in two worlds.

Stream

On two diagonally opposed corners of the pool there are transparent, luminous objects which prompt you to speak into them.

The vocal experiment will create swarms of swirling digital organisms which swim across the waves of the pool.

Drift

The bathers reach the upper surface of the glass pool by means of a ladder. Here, six soft mattresses float on the virtual water. These are supplied with video goggles. Shoals of plankton direct the bather to a free couch where he can relax whilst a short film is shown. This takes him off on an entertaining journey above and under the water into the world of the Cy.Bees and the flying fish.

Meteo

The virtual water reacts to the data from a weather station on the pavilion roof depending on climatic conditions. Like the surface of Lake Bienne the artificial surface of the water also changes its appearance during the course of the day and seasons and thus links the artificial with nature as well as the virtual with that which can be experienced in reality.

Pixflow

A short time after being taken the group photos float trough a glass channel embedded in the ground. This stream of images referred to as Pixflow leads to the pool into which the pictures flow and disappear. Stepping near its shore-line will alter the flow dynamics of the virtual water. As an artistic realisation of the online image transfer the Pixflow succinctly conjures up a visual representation of the fluid interface between reality and virtuality.

experimentieren auf gelungene Weise mit dem Verhältnis von Virtualität und Realität
26. Juni 2002, 11:00, NZZ Online

So ist das Staunen […] eines von vielen, das an diesem Morgen in Gesichtern Einzug hält. Gesichtern, die nicht glauben können, was sie da sehen im Innern dieses Pavillons, der den Namen Cyberhelvetia trägt, aussen weiss ist, aussieht wie ein traditionelles Seebad, auf eine wohlbekannte Nutzung im Innern schliessen lässt — und damit alle Irre führt. Denn: Sein Schein trügt
31.05.2002 Bieler Tagblatt

Staunende Gesichter, die nicht glauben können, was sie sehen im Innern dieses Pavillons, das den Namen Cyberhelvetia trägt
Solothurner Zeitung vom 4. Juni 2002

und das lässt Erwachsene zu Kindern werden. Kinder, die sich vom Bassin-Rand fast nicht mehr verdrängen lassen und damit auch unter der Woche für lange Warteschlangen auf der Plattform sorgen
31.05.2002 Bieler Tagblatt

seit Ausstellungsbeginn einer der Publikumsmagneten auf der Bieler Arteplage
31.05.2002 Bieler Tagblatt

“Än verruckti Sach”, meint das Ehepaar aus Stäfa, beide Rentner, ein Lächeln auf den Lippen, soeben den Pavillon verlassend
31.05.2002 Bieler Tagblatt

Diese Ausstellungen sind die Favoriten: Cyberhelvetia, ein real-virtueller Raum voller Illusionseffekte, optischer Täuschungen und realer Erlebnisse auf virtueller Taucheskapade im Pool. Skurril.
Neue Luzerner Zeitung vom 23. Mai 2002

 
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