The Outlands

2011,Anne Landa Award for Video and New media Arts Art Gallery of NSW. interactive digital projection,computer,various hardware, twigs, table, speakers. Additional sound: Michael Morley, Danny Butt & Rosy Parlane. 

‘The Outlands’ is a virtual reality environment that allows the viewer to explore a series of imaginary landscapes using customized control sticks. Built with the Unreal game engine the work has four levels where viewers are free to take their time to look around and explore without fear of assassination.

Visitors are invited to take control and conduct their own voyage through an immersive digital world of forests, islands, and futuristic interior architecture. Clasping the tree branches that sit atop a console table, the viewer navigates through each zone, encountering portals into the other worlds configured within the work. While appearing to be a video game, what are startlingly absent are weapons, bodies and aggression. The logic of killing and winning that structures gaming no longer exists, and is replaced with the process of moving through each digital environment and at times suddenly being transported into an adjacent world. Exploratory voyaging becomes the subject of ‘The outlands’ and a close attention to the digital environments portrayed within it.

With an interest in the natural landscape and cyber environments Haines and Hinterding converge the two in their impressive projects. Rather than the reactive and violent zones of video games ‘The outlands’ is a virtual journey which rewards unstructured movement and adapts to audience interaction. As the work uses an open world model to generate the environment, the landscape or architecture is often unpredictable as it changes from one navigation to the next.The colour in the work is unnatural, signaling the constructed nature of what we are seeing. The forest scenario for example is an intense saturated blue that is beautiful and immersive and, like an Yves Klein ultramarine, somewhat other worldly. It enhances the dream like feel of the work, of the sublime nature of this environment. In contrast the prismatic architecture of the built world is sharply artificial and futuristic, but equally fictional in appearance. The perfection of digital environments is expressed in this ‘The outlands’ which, with the removal of the death logic of gaming, becomes almost Utopian in feeling

Haines/Hinterding ‘The Outlands’ Machinima Extract 01 from Haines/Hinterding on Vimeo.