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Myron Krueger

Page history last edited by Bryon Federick 14 years, 6 months ago


Myron Krueger Biography:


Myron Krueger (born 1942 in Gary, Indiana) is an American computer artist who developed early interactive works. He is also considered to be one of the first generation virtual reality and augmented reality researchers.

While earning a Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Krueger worked on a number of early interactive computer artworks. In 1969, he collaborated with Dan Sandin, Jerry Erdman and Richard Venezky on a computer controlled environment called "glowflow," a computer-controlled light sound environment that responded to the people within it. Krueger went on to develop Metaplay, an integration of visuals, sounds, and responsive techniques into a single framework. In this, the computer was used to create a unique real-time relationship between the participants in the gallery and the artist in another building. In 1971, his "Psychic space" used a sensory floor to perceive the participants' movements around the environment. A later project, "Videoplace," was funded by the National Endowment for the arts and a two-way exhibit was shown at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1975.

From 1974 to 1978 M. Krueger performed computer graphics research at the Space Science and Engineering Center of the University of Wisconsin–Madison in exchange for institutional support for his "Videoplace" work. In 1978, joined the computer science faculty at the University of Connecticut, where he taught courses in hardware, software, computer graphics and artificial intelligence.


"Videoplace" has been exhibited widely in both art and science contexts in the United States and Canada, and it was also shown in Japan. It was included in the SIGGRAPH Art Show in 1985 and 1990. "Videoplace" was also the featured exhibit at SIGCHI (Computer-Human Interaction Conference) in 1985 and 1989, and at the 1999 Ars Electronica Festival. Instead of taking the virtual reality track of head-mounted display and data glove (which would come later in the 1980s), he investigated projections onto walls.


Krueger later used the hardware from Videoplace for another piece, Small Planet. In this work, participants are able to fly over a small, computer-generated, 3D planet. Flying is done by holding one's arms out, like a child pretending to fly, and leaning left or right and moving up or down. Small Planet was shown at SIGGRAPH '93, Interaction '97 (Ogaki, Japan), Mediartech '98 (Florence, Italy).


He envisioned the art of interactivity, as opposed to art that happens to be interactive. That is, the idea that exploring the space of interactions between humans and computers was interesting. The focus was on the possibilities of interaction itself, rather than on an art project, which happens to have some response to the user. Though his work was somewhat unheralded in mainstream VR thinking for many years as it moved down a path that culminated in the "goggles 'n gloves" archetype, his legacy has experienced greater interest as more recent technological approaches (such as CAVE and Powerwall implementations) move toward the unencumbered interaction approaches championed by Krueger.  (SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myron_W._Krueger)


Responsive Environments


In 1977, Myron Krueger wrote this piece about the future of man/computer relationships.  Krueger wrote that "man-machine interaction is usually limited to a seated man poking at a machine with his fingers...I was dissatisfied with such a restricted dialogue and embarked on research exploring more interesting ways for men and machines to relate" (379).  Krueger developed many responsive environment technologies that evolved and eventually led to his most famous work, "Videoplace."




In 1969, Krueger began working on an art project called "GLOWFLOW."  The idea was simple - create a darkened room with tubes of light.  The floor was covered in sensors. A computer would respond to footsteps by "lighting different tubes or changing the sounds generated by a Moog synthesizer or the origin of these sounds" (379).  To Krueger, GLOWFLOW was successful visually, but it lacked the fundamentals of a responsive environment because the user/audience was not aware of the response taking place.  There was no dialogue going on between man and machine.



Krueger took what he learned from GLOWFLOW and in 1970 applied it to his next project, called "METAPLAY."  Unlike GLOWFLOW, METAPLAY emphasized the interaction between participants and the environment. Krueger facilitated a real-time relationship between the artist and the participant: "An 8' x10' rear-projection video screen dominated the gallery.  The live video image of the viewer and a computer graphic image drawn by an artist, who was in another building, were superimposed on the screen.  Both the viewer and the artist could respond to the resulting image" (380).  Basically, an artist watched the participants via video camera and television.  They then would responsively draw on an electronic tablet, which would then appear in front of the participant.  The possibilities were almost endless:  the artist could write words to communicate with the participants, play games of tic-tac-toe, or draw accessories on and around the participant's image.  The real breakthrough came when Krueger discovered "live graffiti."  Basically, by engaging the participants to move their hands in response to what was being drawn on the screen, the artist could draw lines following their hand movements.  The result was a kind of live graffiti, where the participants could literally create a drawing out of thin air. 




Krueger continued his work in 1971, with the creation of "PSYCHO SPACE."  PSYCHO SPACE was an environment with two functions: "an instrument for musical expression, and a richly composed, interactive, visual experience" (381). The floor of PSYCHIC SPACE was divided into musical/sound keys.  Every time a person made a step, a different note or sound was triggered.  Participants walked, jumped, and ran about the room, both exploring and experimenting with the environment.  After a while, Krueger added a new function, which would create an actual dialogue between the user and the computer:  If a person paused between notes, the computer would repeat the notes again.  "If a person remained still during the pause, the computer assumed that the relationship was understood...the desire was for a man-machine dialogue resembling the guitar dual in Deliverance" (382).


The second feature of PSYCHIC SPACE was a maze program.  A person's position in the room was represented by a small symbol on the projection screen.  A person's physical movement in the room would cause the symbol to correspondingly move on the screen.  By placing another object on the screen, Krueger was able to get the participant to move towards it, which in turn, triggered the maze to appear.  Depending on the person's position in the room, the maze would display reactionary changes to thwart immediate success.  In this way, the user and the computer were responding to each other. 




"The video medium has the potential of being more rich and variable in some ways, than reality itself."




In 1975, Krueger began his major work, "VIDEOPLACE."  The VIDEOPLACE concept is simple, it consists of two or more rooms that can be placed anywhere from next to each other to thousands of miles apart. Within the room, a 8' x 10' rear projection screen is utilized so that when a person enters, they are confronted with their own image as well as the images of those in the connected rooms. Those in the connected rooms are also witnessing the same image that the user himself sees. By moving about the their respective rooms, the user's image itself moves about and can interact with other users' images. In addition, the user's image can be shrunk, rotated, colored or keyed in various ways. The user also has the chance to interact not only with the other users, but with graphically represented objects.


For Krueger it was these relationships between action and response that were most important: "The beauty of the visual and aural response is secondary.  Response is the medium" (385)!   As an art form, this is unique.  Instead of an artist creating a piece of artwork, the artist is creating a sequence of possibilities.  Conversely, the audience is not looking at a piece of artwork.  Instead, they are actively involved, sharing in the creation of the art.  

Krueger believes that the technology of VIDEOPLACE has many applications.  First of all, it is much more sophisticated than regular (picturephone) telecommunications.  With VIDEOPLACE technology, people can communicate in a responsive environment.  Krueger believes that these responsive environments would work greatly in education.  Instead of a child learning from a teacher while sitting behind a desk, they could actively participate in a responsive, thought-provoking environment.  Krueger believes that this technology can not-only change how we teach and learn, but what we teach and learn.  Krueger also believes that such responsive environments would be greatly beneficial in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy, allowing researchers to have a unique environment to both study and help their subjects.

Krueger concludes his paper by explaining the importance of exploring these new technologies:  "we must fully explore these aspects of our inventions, because the next generation of technology will speak to us, understand us, and perceive our behavior.  It will enter every home and office and intercede between us and much of the information and experience we receive" (389). Evidence of Krueger's vision can be seen in many places today, including virtual reality and video games (Think Nintendo Wii, Second Life).



Below you will find three videos that demonstrate Myron Krueger's VIDEOPLACE:










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