Special Treatment Project
Geoffrey Allen Baum, Ben Chang, Todd Margolis, Keith Miller, Ellen Sandor
Special Treatment is an immersive and interactive Virtual Reality installation examining the strength and persistence of memory. A chilling ride by train car deposits viewers in a sparsely populated camp pieced together from the original plans, photographs and other visual artifacts from Auschwitz II/Birkenau, Poland.
As the visitors explore the camp and architectural structures, conversations and other pieces of the past fade in and out of perception – at times almost tangible, at other times just as ghosts. These structures and stories are not intended to be strictly historical or documentary. Each element is the foundation for the folding together of past and present; where the sounds and images of old memories blend with memories created by each new visitor.
To provide each viewer with a truly immersive experience, Special Treatment is shown on an Oculus Rift. This exhibition will be the premiere of it’s latest incarnation having recently been ported to the Unity game engine from the Yggdrasil VR platform developed at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Special Treatment was originally inspired by the black and white image processed PHSCologram, The Barracks, created by (art)n and the Shoah Foundation.
Geoffrey Allen Baum is a founder of Applied Interactives and received his MFA in Electronic Visualization from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005. As artist and technologist, his interests converge at a point between artistic process and scientific discovery; searching for ways to make virtual reality and other immersive experiences less expensive and more practical for other artists and the larger public. His own work, which has been exhibited at Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria) and Version>02, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, among others, concerns itself with idea of the individual as the center of these private universes and plays with the creative power the mythology and legends of how humanity situates itself in any reality.
Ben Chang is an electronic artist and designer who creates virtual reality environments, interactive installations, and digital games. Combining a background in fine art and computer science, his work explores the chaotic, human qualities in technological systems. His work has been exhibited in numerous venues worldwide, including SIGGRAPH, FILE Sao Paulo, the Athens MediaTerra Festival, the Wired NextFest, and the Vancouver New Forms Festival, among others. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of the Arts and Director of the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
Todd Margolis is a transmedia producer of immersive artworks. He is currently an Assistant Project Scientist at the Qualcomm Institute of Calit2 at UCSD. He serves on the boards of several nonprofit and academic organizations in the US and UK which focus on immersive and interactive art and technology. Margolis’ current research investigates social and cultural relationships to emerging media. His practice draws on over a decade of experience creating telecollaborative immersive and interactive artworks and systems. He has published numerous papers on virtual/augmented reality artworks and systems and lectured on new media both nationally and internationally. His work has been shown in museums, festivals and galleries around the world.
Keith Miller is currently living in Wellington, New Zealand, where he has been working as a Visual Effects Supervisor with Weta Digital on various feature film projects. Before leaving the United States, he was an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a member of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL). He additionally collaborated with (art)n Laboratory as the Technical Director, developing 3D models and graphic content for vintage PHSColograms. He was a cofounder and longtime contributor to Applied Interactives, and his personal and collaborative works have been shown throughout the United States and internationally.
Ellen Sandor, new media artist, Founder/Director of (art)n. In 1983, Sandor had the vision to create a new medium she coined PHSColograms, which are 3D barrier-screen computer-generated photographs and sculptures. This was the precursor to the virtual reality CAVE. Her works are in the permanent collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Smithsonian Institution, among others. She is an Affiliate of eDream, NCSA, Chair of the Board of the Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2014, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from SAIC.