[-empyre-] interactivity and flow

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Jan 15 05:42:36 EST 2014

Hi - I feel my week or so is up, of course, but I do want to give one 
example of an early interactive work of mine; I was trying to think back 
to early virtual space investigations. In 1970-71, I created a piece, 
4320, using a computer program written by Charles Strauss at Brown 
University, and run on a vector graphics console with keyboard and 
joystick controls. The program presented a four-dimensional hypercube on a 
screen, and the hypercube (or technically it's two-dimensional projection) 
could be manipulated by the joystick. I was this as a virtual space, an 
else-where space, but one that a human operator could 'drive' in. I asked 
a number of students to sit at the console, as if they were driving in 4d 
(spatial coordinates), and to complete the task of turning the 4d shape 
into a 3d shape (by making it orthogonal to the projected 3d space); to 
then turn the 3d shape (a cube) orthogonally to the screen, creating a 
square, and finally, to reduce the square to a dot - hence the title 4320 
as the dimensions were reduced. The participants interacted with the 
hypercube and felt indeed that they were driving in 4d, that they were 
inhabiting it in a way. I wrote about this and other work and human 
experience in general in terms of what I called immersive and definable 
hierarchies; the idea of the former is what is called flow now; and the 
latter, the mechanics behind the habitus of the flow - the programming, 
visualization protocols and display, etc. etc. I worked off Merleau-Ponty, 
Schutz, and other phenomenologists, as well as Piaget's mathematico-logic 
work, and some ideas from the structuralists and post-structuralists. I 
found the same issues then, that we're discussing now. There's a brief 
description of the project at 
I feel most of the research since then, that might be useful, is found in 
second-order cybernetics materials and cog psy. For me, the odd thing 
about 4320 is that the screen/virtuality setup is identical with the ones 
in use today in SL and other virtual worlds / mixed realities. You 
couldn't place your physical self/representation in the vector graphics 
display, but you did feel you were 'there.'

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