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3DVisA Index of 3D Projects: Digital Arts

Data_cosm by Michael Takeo Magruder

Data_cosm is a conceptual exploration of today's media-saturated world and the artist's response to information overload. It is an infinite digital installation for online and gallery display: each screen is unique, as the data which feed the installation are streamed in real time from the BBC news online archives. Items of news broadcasts are being deconstructed and reassembled into a three-dimensional virtual environment. Text and images take form of an array of barely recognisable, floating forms in translucent, pastel colours. The often harsh reality of headlines is transformed into aesthetics of painterly subtlety and poetic tranquillity. The data_cosm is not random, but an infinite permutation of patterns of data from diverse sources. The ever-changing display fills in an arrangement of cubic spaces floating in a black void. By touching the screen, the viewer can interact with the composition and select details that may be projected onto a large screen.

Fig. 1. Michael Takeo Magruder presenting his data_cosm at the Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts Conference (DRHA), Dartington College of Arts, UK, September 2006. Photo A. Bentkowska-Kafel.

Data_cosm is a dynamic 3D construct and uses multiple viewpoints. It was created in Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML), Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML), Flash and Java code-sets. The core ‘world’ is defined via a morphing VRML structure with embedded Flash textures. Both the VRML and Flash elements communicate via client-side scripting (JavaScript and ActionScript respectively) to a continuously expanding server-side information database located on the artist's website. This evolving data-set is generated by a Java program which pulls data from the BBC’s internet news service in real-time. These data are pulled into the 3D skeletal framework and the final ‘world’ is thus assembled.

Michael Takeo Magruder was born in the USA. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1996 receiving a BA (Hons) in Biological Science. He lives in the UK and works as a Researcher for King's Visualization Lab, King's College London. Although he trained as a scientist, and not as a fine artist, his work draws on artistic tradition of conventional media, such as stained glass and painting - an affinity he likes to emphasize. The computer gives him the precision which he cannot find in analogue media, and offers his viewers a changing, continuous experience.

Fig. 1. Data_cosm by Michael Takeo Magruder. © Michael Takeo Magruder. Reproduced with kind permission.

Project dates: July 2005.

Artwork status:

Data_cosm is available online at the artist's website where technical requirements and viewing instructions are given. It is also available for gallery display.


The artist Michael Takeo Magruder was assisted by Drew Baker, King's College Visualization Lab, London (VRML programming) and David Steele (Java programming); supported by King's Visualization Lab, King's College London and Arts Council England.

Sources and further details:

Michael Takeo Magruder's website.

Selected Exhibitions:

Net:Reality, The Arts Council of England touring exhibition, various venues, from July 2005.

Intersections, SIGGRAPH 2006 Art Gallery, Boston Convention Center, Boston, MA, USA, 30 July - 3 August 2006.

Record compiled by Anna Bentkowska-Kafel. Last updated: 11 September 2006.

3DVisA gratefully acknowledges the help of Michael Takeo Magruder with preparation of this record.

© Michael Takeo Magruder and 3DVisA, 2006.

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