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+ Funded Collaborative Project
+ Kevin Atherton and Peter Maloney (Doublevision)

Real-time immersive digital environment. Commissioned for Alnwick Playhouse for Visual Arts '96 by Northern Arts, Northumberland County Council, Alnwick District Council and Alnwick Playhouse Trust.

Virtual Reality meets The Windsor of the North

Kevin Atherton and I were commissioned to produce a site-specific artwork for Visual Arts '96 in Alnwick, the Windsor of the North. Our response Alnwick II was a fully immersive real-time digital environment inside which architectural and cultural aspects of the town are deconstructed and remapped to generate a new narrative space.

Using the famous and historic market square as a focal point. The narrative plot for the work was based on our experience while on location in the town. The experience takes the form of a tour around the town with refreshment breaks encouraged along the way. Visitors toured the environment navigating real and imagined, past and future sites in the town, which all co-exist in the digital space. (typical of the VR environments of its time, the world is described in very low res and is crudely rendered in an attempt to keep the frame rate up).

• Visitors are able to make themselves at home in a domestic living room, with a clock that always tells the right time. Two cups of tea can be had here.

• They can visit the Bookmakers, only to find themselves suddenly on the stage of Alnwick Playhouse where they receive a favourable reception and collect 2 cups of tea. A chorus of boos ring out as we exit from the stage.

• Explore a secret alley in the Market Hall which unexpectedly leads to the proposed edge of town Supermarket - a major talking point at the time, two cups of tea can be found here.

• Enter the Gift Shop and you are suddenly in Alnwick Castle confronted by the infamous ghost – it is protecting two cups of tea.

• Visit the newly refurbished Art Gallery currently exhibiting two huge Oldenberg scaled cups of tea. There is an element of gameplay in the work where participants are asked to collect cups of tea during their visit.

On achieving this, they were then able to unlock and visit the toilet. The work generated a lot of local interest as we had portrayed the Market Square free of parked cars. Councilors were invited to see the work by local residents to show them how the square could look.

The work was experienced via a head-mounted display and a 3d mouse was used to navigate through the work. Large screens in the gallery allowed others to share the experience. The presentation of the work took place in the gallery of the newly renovated Alnwick Playhouse, close to the market square, with a special live opening performance by Kevin Atherton on the theatre stage.