In July I checked out the NTT InterCommunications Center. It would better be called a multi−media museum or exhibition hall. I'm curious how you become a multi−media artist and have your creation / art displayed (and funded since lots of them clearly require some major money).
Like most art museums the exhibits are only there for a limited time which in this case is probably fairly important since the state of the art in multi−media changes relatively quickly. Not that it's just about "state of the art" tech though.
If you saw my request for several LCD projectors for my birthday 😊 going to this museum is what inspired me to want some.
Not all of the exhibits *moved* me but I found most of them interesting. Sorry the pictures are so small. I couldn't take pictures inside the museum and so I scanned these pictures from a brochure and so some of them are kind of grainy as the brochure images were, in the interest of graphic design I guess, small to start with.
|I you look closely you can see a person standing in front of that large screen. It was showing a movie of slowly scrolling clovers and the exhibit was called "Searching for 4 leaf clovers"|
|One of the less Multi-media exhibits was a bunch of large posters of convenience store food made by an artist who went into a convenience store, picked up different foods and put them on the color copy machine in the store.|
|This one was one of my favorites. It's really hard to see here but there are 4 tables each with a modeled white terrain on them. Each about 3x3 feet. From the ceiling above each table is an LCD projector projecting a movie. For you 3D CG people was like like projecting a texture on a height mapped terrain. The movies fit the terrain perfectly and were animated so for example one looked like the seasons changing as snow collected, melted into spring greens, leave color changes flowed over the terrain for fall etc. Something was just neat about standing next to them and looking at them almost like some kind of real VR display.|
|This one was also particularly cool. It is a giant 3D zoetrope. Instead of using slits or mirrors this one used strobe light. When regular lighting was on it just looked like a spinning blur but with the strobe on it was a wire frame guy juggling. He tossed up a phone handset which would morph into a baby's milk bottle which would squirt out a blob of milk which would morph onto a ball, then a parachute, then a block and then the block would turn back into the handset which he would catch.|
The first room in the museum I entered had the food exhibit and not much else. One thing that was a little strange is that the projection exhibits like the 4 tables were in a separate room behind a big off white vinyl curtain that was the same color as the walls and there was no sign or directions so for the first 10 minutes or so I thought it was a curtain to an employee's only area. It wasn't until I saw a few people come out that I figured out it was safe to enter.
I don't have a picture unfortunately but one of the rooms was square with a platform in the center with 2 LCD projectors displaying in opposite directions and rotating on top the platform so that their images slowly circled the room. The display was an image of a room that was synchronized to the speed of rotation so that it looked like you were looking into a larger room through 2 rotating windows. Sometimes people would materialize in the room as the *windows* rotated past that part of the room. It was kind of neat.
Also in the main room was a small shack, also with no clear marking telling one to enter. When I figured it out, inside was a large, maybe 12 by 6 foot sculpture of rocks, papier−mache, white with 4 slide projectors projecting *textures* on them. The slide projectors would fade to new textures every 10 or 20 seconds or so. Sometimes the rocks looked like granite, other times marble, other times ice or glowing red hot. Almost like a video game but still there was something cool about it being large and *real*.
A couple of exhibits, instead of being *works of art* were explorations into technology
One was a VR exhibit from the University of Illinois. It was a *cave*. A room maybe 10x10x10 feet where there were images projected on the front wall, left and right walls and the floor. You'd stand in the center of the room, wear some sunglasses that let you see in 3D (they were the LCD shutter kind) and then there was a joystick you could hold to control it. Depending on the time of day they had different software running.
In some ways it was kind of old. It's running on SGIs which have now long been crap compared to current PCs. As you can see from the pictures above there was not much detail in at least one of the programs. But, standing in the *cave* with the sunglasses was far far more immersive than any other 3D VR system I've used. I moved until I was standing inside some bushes and they actually seemed like they were around my body. It would be fun to put something like Quake or Half Life in there since it would look MUCH better and have more interesting environments.
One other software I saw on that system was a model of some part of Chicago. It was supposed to be an interactive history lesson. You could wander around the town and if you got near something you'd get a narration about its history.
It had several problems though. One, there were people standing around you could walk up to and there would be a narration from them too. Kind of like listening to anecdotes. But, you could get 2 or 3 people or stories going at the same time which then of course you couldn't understand any of them.
The other big problem is that it would often slow to like 1hz (1 frame a second). That was pretty lame and typical of student projects on SGIs. It was NOT detailed enough to be running at 1hz.
One of the exhibits I didn't quite get was a room, maybe 20x20 feet with fairly tall walls. In one corner of the room using 2 projectors from opposite walls were large images of live static. . Above you can see the two walls at the same time. The image would meet in the corner of the room. Imagine those images being like 12 feet wide and 16 feet tall. There were kind of abstract static like sounds and the static images some how reflected the sounds being played. Maybe some people could meditate to it but not me.
Another room was pretty large. Maybe 40 by 20 feet and was covered in blue LEDs, some in patterns kind of placed at random. A few every foot and a half about. If you've ever seen the movie Laputa there's a scene where the two main characters are inside a cave. They meet an old guy who blows their lantern out and shows them all the special stones that glow in the dark in the cave. This exhibit reminded me of that including some music that fit the scene. The LEDs would fade in and out kind of randomly too making it all kind of twinkle.
The last thing I checked out was a *sound room*. Interestingly the exhibit takes 10 minutes and only one person at a time can experience it. You wait by a scary looking door almost like you are going to enter some special JPL/NASA lab. When it's your turn you are escorted up half a flight of stairs, given a place to put your bags just before you enter the *room*. Entering the room there is a single easy chair in the center of the room.
The museum person sits you down and gives you a *panic* button incase you get *disturbed* and want out. After which she closes a big *safe like door*. The room is supposed to be sound proof and the walls are covered in sound absorbing foam. There are a few audiophile speakers hidden in the foam and you are *transported to other spaces* by the sounds. The lights dim and then go 100% pitch black so that you can focus on the sounds only. It was kind of interesting although the particular soundtrack I heard was not all that great. They change the soundtrack every few months. . It was neat how crisp and clear the sound was in that room.
I should probably go back every 3 months or so to see what's new. It's $8 to get in and it's only one stop from Shinjuku on the Keio New Shinjuku line. In fact I could probably walk there from my apartment in under 30 minutes.
If you want info they have a webpage with both English and Japanese info.