by: Michael Takeo Magruder - 05.2006

Assisted by:

Drew Baker ( VRML programming ) + David Steele ( Java programming )


Windows 2000/XP system with IE 6 or Firefox 1.5 using: Cortona VRML 4.2, Flash 8+, and Windows Media Player 10+, color display with ≥1024x768 resolution, 5.1 or stereo audio, hi-specification CPU and graphics card. * note * This piece requires the Cortona plugin to be configured for correct viewing. Please refer to the setup instructions before accessing the work.


In Monolith[s], temporal and spatial dimensions of the viewer's own immediate environment are absorbed and rearranged into a constantly evolving virtual realm in which icons of pre-history are juxtaposed with digitally complex refractions of how history materializes in the information age.

The core geometry of the artwork is defined by a set of Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) files that generate a dynamic three-dimensional realm. The world and structures within it are formulated according to motifs and proportions of ancient architecture infused with fundamental mathematics of modern digital communication systems. Each genesis of the artwork’s geometry is unique, as mathematical randomization is augmented by aspects from our own realities. Variables such as the time of day, the viewer’s location on the Earth, and the position of the Earth around the sun are incorporated into the artwork, thus instilling into the realm functions of a rudimentary clock, global positioning system, and solar calendar.

Every day at 00:00GMT a Java servlet deconstructs the live BBC internet news service and creates a database containing the website’s entire collection of news articles. From this database, 100 random news items (each represented by a text and an image file) are selected and used to create a server-side dataset that lasts until the next day. This dataset is called by Flash elements embedded within the VRML. These complex components, which are in a constant state of flux, overlay simple geometry and textures that evoke early virtual reality graphics, while the world's soundscape is constructed from an amalgamation of the BBC’s live Internet radio service and spatialized sound loops.

Without whom:

Drew Baker + David Steele ( programming ) . Hugh Denard ( discourse ) . Jo-Anne Green + Helen Thorington ( distribution ) . Gregory Sporton ( technology ) . King’s Visualisation Lab, Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London ( infrastructure )

Monolith[s] is a 2006 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.