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The Virtual Museum

Jeffrey Shaw

The Virtual Museum is a three-dimensional computer-generated museum constituted by an immaterial constellation of rooms and exhibits. A round, motorised rotating platform is furnished with a large video projection monitor, a computer, and a chair from which the viewer interactively controls his journey through The Virtual Museum. Forwards and backwards movement of the chair causes corresponding motion by the viewer through the museum space represented on the screen. Turning the chair producess a rotation of this virtual image space, and also a synchronous physical rotation of the platform.

The Virtual Museum is made up by five rooms which have the same appearance as the real room in which the installation is located. This establishes a conjunction of the real and virtual spaces and a conjunction of the real and virtual modalities of travel for the viewer. To make this explicit, the first virtual room shows a representation of the installation itself. At first the viewer faces both the real and virtual monitor screens - the real and virtual realities are exactly aligned. The viewer moving through The Virtual Museum in effect transports himself out of this chair and can see the installation, with its vacated chair, as an object outside his virtual point of view.

The other four rooms are entered consecutively by passing through any of the immaterial walls of the room the viewer is in. Using alphabetic and textual forms, each room contains its own specific virtual 'exhibits'. The exhibits in the first three rooms are referential to existing genres - painting, sculpture and cinema. The exhibit in the fourth room describes the particularity of a wholly computer generated environment - three randomly moving signs ('A', '2', 'Z') are primary-coloured light sources that disclose and irradiate the room.


Software: Gideon May
Hardware: Huib Nelissen and Bas Bossinade
Produced under the auspices of the Städelschule, Institut für Neue Medien, Frankfurt a.M., Germany


1991: Das Belebte Bild, Interaktive Computer Installationen, Art Frankfurt, Frankfurt a.M., Germany; Machines ˆ Communiquer, La Villette, Cité des Sciences et de l´Industrie, Paris, France.

1992: The Robots, Nagashima Spaland, Nagoya, Japan; Ars Electronica: Die Welt von Innen - Endo & Nano, Brucknerhaus, Linz, Austria; Revue virtuelle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

1993: Künstliche Spiele, Medienlabor, Munich, Germany.

1994: Arte Virtual, Communidad de Madrid, Spain; Interactive Media Festival, Los Angeles, United States.