I spent a year (1994/5) with Jackie Batey embedding visualisations of light into a multi-media database on a cdrom - "The Art of Light". A departmental wrangle meant the product of 18 months work was never published, seldom seen and generally ignored in an institution where, it was supposed, ideas were paramount, and the technical means of their communications of secondary interest. Given the lamentable state of the Faculty's computer hardware, this was a most convenient conceit.

For three days one summer Jackie and I made the computer available in the University's gallery, surrounded by these images of the ways in which we depict light. The concept of embedding visual information within the space provided by the computer's screen was influenced by Frances Yates' ideas of the Renaissance Memory Theatre from "The Art of Memory". Robert Fludde's, "Theatre of the World" had been simulated by the architect Paul Gammon with sound and music composed by Tim Howlett.

The next year we mounted a display in the Corn Hall in Brighton and made many useful contacts at the University of Sussex and elsewhere.

The navigational system was innovatory and mysterious. The prevailing imagery was more Thomas Rowlandson rather than Myst. The culture from which it came had little in common with Bill Gates and the United States, and promoted a visual identity from Europe and the seventeenth century in particular. The spirit of Andrew Marvell haunted tha landscapes. The absence of Light was as important as its Manifestations. It was a Manichean experience and almost infinite in its complexities. Small illustrations on the packaging gave a clue as to the available terrain.

It was modelled in Director, and is now an inert file in the external hard disk on my desk. My, but we had some fun before the curtains came down on our Theatre of the World.

 

The Headlight Beam (The World of the Car)