Column Exploring New Concepts that Push the Virtual Reality Envelope
Time, Space, and Stuff are intrinsic parts of both reality and virtual reality. Space and Stuff are simple enough. VR programmers can produce fantastic or real-world objects and places whenever they please. But Time — real, historic, or future — is trickier. The only ‘real’ Time that a VR world can depict is the photographable or videographable present, or the past as its sights and sounds have been preserved by human technology. Future Time can be rendered only by our imaginations, or waited for, until it becomes present.
By a lucky, and temporary, calendric synchronicity, an extraordinary discontinuity in the timespace continuum is approaching.
This predictable and scheduled near-future event is The Millennium. The turn of the year 2000 has been, for much of the preceding millennium, and will be for the entire millennium ahead, a great symbolic divide in human affairs and the history of intelligent life on this planet. In one spin of the Earth, humanity will exit the stretch of time that has included about 97 percent of everything we call history and will enter the future. In a flash, the 1000s will become the 2000s.
Millennium Night and the two days that bracket it offer an unparalleled opportunity for a massive, worldwide, simultaneous pictorial documentation of our world and ourselves. The Millenial shift and present technology offer an opportunity way beyond any previous occasion. This writer is working on a project to enlist a major portion of the world’s population to create an image database of the millions of parties, celebrations, gatherings, festivals, and miscellaneous events occurring around the globe as it revolves out of December 1999 into January 2000.
These still-life and video images, along with audio-clipped voices, cheers, music and commotion, will be compiled over the succeeding months and years into the largest interactive set of navigable sights and sounds ever created: a Virtual Turn-of-the-Millennium World that can be visited forever by the denizens of every decade and century of the millennium this night will usher in!
This World Millennium Snapshot “holomorph” will be the largest, and the first global, public art project. Its content will be taken from millions of Millennium celebrants as they gather, in groups large and small, to mark the genesis of the 2000’s with a toast and an at-the-second snapshot.
The creation of the World Millennium Snapshot holomorph is in its first phase now. Sponsors are lining up, with the vigor this massive project requires, to pubicize the project world-wide. We hope that a whole range of large companies with an obvious commercial interest in this massive photo-and-video-camera-utilizing mega-enterprise will work together to publicize the Snapshot in their respective continents and countries, and provide the means for the collecting of the images and footage and sounds, and relevant geographical and identifying text information, by wire, wireless, and post.
The second phase of preparation, is the design of the virtual world of December 31st, 1999 – January 1st, 2000: the “holomorph” of the World Millennium Snapshot. We need to design an elegant four-dimensional navigable infospace. This space will represent the entire land-and-water surface of the planet during the approximately 36 hours from the beginning of the final sunset of the 1900s to the end of the first sunrise of the 2000s. Later, infused into it, will be an unlimited number of separate images, moving picture sequences and sound streams.
The “dictionary lookup” method of using stored images in response to commands will be used to electronically manifest specific image contents when latitudinal, longitudinal points and elevations, or specified points in time are accessed by post-Millennium cyber-travelers. The holomorph will be created on the fly along the routes the voyeur-revelers spin themselves along.
It’s completely possible the Millennium Holomorph will become the basic four-dimensional skeleton of a permanent dynamic always-growing Virtual Earth. This veritable time sponge may contain an unending quantity of archival content from all over history before and following 2000 for the electro-journeyers of the third millennium.
On the occasion of Millennium Night itself, a small army of pre-positioned digital photographers will create visual geo-linear “axes” of related images in reference to which the mass of other images can be spatially oriented. In particular, a sequential east-to-west latitudinal series of views of the final sunset of the 1000s and, in overlapping and succeeding hours with the same cameras turned around, the very first sunrise of the 2000s in a continuous view moving around the world will be made.
Other geographical points to which the Millennium World Snapshot holomorph might be oriented include the proposed “Beacon Millennium” bonfires around the world, and any World Wide Webcams that are operating as one-frame-a-day-archiving very-long-duration time-lapse visual record-making “TimeCams.”
The World Millennium Snapshot carries the potential to bring together people from each of the world’s corners. They’ll share in this grand celebration of the coming of a new millennium. They’ll create a crystal-clear, ever-lasting image of a world and its residents at the birth of an era.
The final result, the interactive navigable holomorphic “spherical” global database of millions of images and places and people and doings worldwide as they exactly were at the close of 2018 and turn of 2020 will exist both as a virtual world on the World Wide Web and, in a larger and richer version, a massive interactive CD/DVD product.
Now all we have to do is make this happen!