(The Garden, The Forest,
Video installation, 1992-94
The story of the film is simple: there is a small two-year-old girl in a garden, where she plays, runs, walks and looks around alone. The girl is a living person, but the environment is 3D computer-generated.
The main idea of the animation is a new kind of perspective system, called Water-Drop Perspective System. This system was invented by myself, and programmed by Imre Kováts. The system comprises a spherical system with the small child in its centre. While in the Renaissance perspective, the viewer has a viewpoint at the eyes and vanishing points on the horizon, which is always a straight line, in my perspective system, there are endless viewpoints in the head of the child, and endless viewpoints all around her. The horizon in this system is not a straight line, but an oval. This means that the world ends between the child and the viewer. Thus the viewer is totally outside of the child's world; he or she has no importance.
The small spherical world is the child's own world, and inside of this world, every object becomes bigger or smaller, has distortion, is visible or invisible depending on the distance between the object and the small girl, depending on her interest. I have invented this Water Drop Perspective System to make visible the close attention of children to their surroundings, to show the delight of their discovery.
For The Garden, we had to develop new software. We developed the software which calculates the 3D moving analysis; another which makes the randomised, dotted texture map; the next to merge the background, foreground and the child into one image; in addition to the main software, the Water Drop Perspective System itself.
This animation is a kind of virtual reality, but you can see somebody else's virtual world, and not - as usual - yours. It is not you who decides where to look and what to touch; you are passive. You can enjoy - if you want - the discovery of somebody else, you can understand the logic of somebody else. This means tolerance, and this is very important for me.
In the first version of The Forest, made as a computer animation, the image of the forest creates the impression of a three-dimensional space constructed from elements which themselves are only two-dimensional. The basis for the image is a black-and-white drawing of a bare tree. (…) this tree is directly related to the calligraphic drawing of human figuers seen in Balance. The Forest can also be viewed as a long vertical composition running in an infinite sequence. The effect of infinity is partly created by the suggestion of perpetual motion: to the viewer, the camera seems to move continually up and down, although it never actually pans as far as the treetops or the ground. This is the first of severel lines of movement in the animation.
Waliczky copied the two-dimensional drawing of the tree onto the surface of a number of transparent cylinders. This structure, made up of cylinders of varying size, supplies the basis for the visual impression of the endless forest in the animation. The virtual camera which provides the viewer with pictures of the forest is placed among the cylinders. Since the camera is far smaller than the smallest cylinder, the viewer remains unaware that the trees in the picture are not standing in a staggered row but mounted on a set of convex surfaces. When the cylinders begin to revolve, the camera appears to pan to the right or left.
This is the second line of movement, the movement of the cylinders. The virtual camera is also mobile: it can move forwards or backwards along a circular path within the forest, thereby forming the third line of movement. The combination of the three lines makes it possible to produce movements running in every direction, including diagonals, spirals and so forth. With this structure, Waliczky alters the whole system of coordinates on which the representation of space depends. Whereas the tree directions (x, y and z) normally correspond to straight vectors, Waliczky's system of coordinates employs curved lines that loop back on themselves. This evokes a sense of limitless space: the viewer feels that there is no way out of the forest, which extends in every direction. The bare trees revolve endlessly around their own axis like patterns in a kaleidoscope. The resulting illusion is complete and deeply alarming: the infinity of the gaze leads to a total loss of perspective.
The Way is a three-dimensional computer animation mixed with live video. Three runners can be seen, followed by the camera, on a foggy street of a small German village. The typical German houses and the trees of this village are computer-generated in a traditional way: modeled and texture-mapped with Softimage. The three runners are the clones of one person; he was recorded on a treadmill in a video studio environment. Copying the actor onto the computer-generated background necessitated the use of a special mate software, written by Chris Dodge. The actor of The Way at the same time, is the musician-composer of the animation, Manfred Hauffen. To develop the animation has taken six months from design to the end. The Way was supported by Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) Karlsruhe.
To visualise The Way, I have inverted the usual central perspective system. Instead of leaving the vanishing point at its usual place (i.e., on the horizon, which represents the endless), I have moved it to the closest possible position to the viewpoint. Since the viewpoint and the vanishing point are nearly on the same place in this system, every object disappears before it can reach the eyes of the viewer. The farther an object from the viewer, the bigger it is. The closer an object to the viewer, the smaller it is. The viewer can realise this law also by the runners: the smallest runner is the closest one, and the biggest is the farthest. Since our camera follows the runners, they are all the same size. They are some kind of reference points for us in this strange inverted world.
This simple trick produces a very strong effect. Since no one has the possibility to realise such an effect in the real world, the brain of the viewer continuously wants to invert the visual happening. The result is a strained balance, which was my intention.
Storyboard: Tamás Waliczky and Anna Szepesi
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