"... is an interdisciplinar group concerned with the integration of technology+communication+art+design ..."

................. MMB .................


Virtual Reality Application
permanent exhibited in the CAVE
Ars Electronica Center
Museum of the Future

Producer: F.A.B.R.I.CATORS, Milan/Italy
Contact: Yesi Maharaj Singh
Phone: ++39-2-70128233 - Fax: 76110498
email: fabricat@galactica.it

In collaboration with:

  • Dave Pape, Josephine Anstey, Tomoko Imai,
    EVL (Electronic Visualisation Lab), Illinois University at Chicago, USA;
    Special thanks to:
    Dan Sandin, Tom DeFanti, Gary Lindhal, Hisham Bizri, Jim Costigan

  • Universitą degli studi di Milano, Laboratorio Eidomatica, directed by Prof. Daniele Marini;
  • Thanks to: Paola Trapani and the students under the direction of Prof. Daniele Marini;
  • Giosč Casalotto (Sound), Italy;

  • Realized in part at the Ars Electronica FutureLab within the Research&Residence Program

What is the Multi-Mega-Book?

The Multi Mega Book is an "uptodate" electronic book sculputure ... a magical and stimulating journey through some of the most intense moments of human experience in media, technology, science, architecture, culture.
This project is available in different versions:

  1. Architectonic-multimedia installation
  2. Virtual Applications
  3. Net-version ...
What is the MMB in the CAVE?

The Multi Mega Book in the Cave was developed for CAVE: Cave Automatic VirtualEnvironment"; a VR full inmersive interactive installation with high resolution stereoscopic images.

The MULTI MEGA BOOK (MMB) in the CAVE (VR-application) expands one Maxi-Page of the ongoing Multi-Mega-Book Project. The MMB in the CAVE focuses on the specific argument of "The shift from the printed+book to the electronic text+digital skin". The user experiences, and creatively interacts with two revolutionary moments of human history and experience the shift between: the printed+communication (XV century) and electronic communication (XX century). The Renaissance and the Electronic Age integrated into one unique environment.

The application juxtaposes two revolutions which have transformed the history of communication and in consequence human history. The interactive visitor freely explores the different dimensions of the two key centuries through the use of the CAVE(TM) a Virtual Reality Theater.
When the user enters the CAVE, the Multi Mega Book is in front of him/her. S/he can turn the pages, and move through the pages into various parts of the worlds within. One world is an idealised Renaissance city, the user can see famous buildings, walk through Leonardo's "Last Supper", and visit and use Gutenberg's printing press. A tunnel leads from here to another city - a "CD-City" which visualises the movement of digital, networked information, a city in which everything is interactive. The navigation and the interaction of the Multi-Mega-Book is often surprising, designed to draw the user from the Renaissance to the Information Age, exploring two different modes of communication and showing how both eras combined mathematics, innovation, art and cutting edge technology. In its entirety the MMB is a metaphor for means of communication through time. The different pages of the MMB-installation give access to different aspects of the history of communication.


Nem is composed using basic geometric forms, circle, triangle, sphere. These shapes shift to create a column or a character. In the Renaissance city he appears first as an "info-point" column. As the visitors approach, he opens up into a "humanoide" figure and establishes an interactive relationship with them as he guides them through the environment. In the CD-City Nem is a "network agent" - He no longer guides the visitor from place to place but acts as a node for sending and receiving information. The changes in Nem's shape and behavior are related to the epoch. In the Renaissance, both guide and visitor, have to move their bodies to get to the original source of the information. In the CD-City where the information is mainly digitalized, Nem exists as a "high speed carrier", bringing information to the user who is not required to travel to its physical source. However, as the digital interchange flows around the CD-City, the visitor is encouraged to travel, and to interact with any of several Nem network agents.


The application is primarily designed to run in the CAVE, a multi-person, room-sized virtual reality system developed at EVL. the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago It is, however, capable of RUNNING on a number of different VR platforms, including the ImmersaDesk and simpler graphics workstations.
The CAVE is a 10 x 10 x 10 ft. room with screens for walls. High resolution stereoscopic images are rear-projected onto the walls and the floor and viewed with light-weight LCD stereo glasses to mediate the stereoscopic imagery. Attached to the glasses is a location sensor. As the viewer moves within the confines of the CAVE, the correct perspective and stereo projection of the environment are updated and the user may walk around or through virtual objects. The CAVE's room-sized structure allows for multiple users to move around freely, both physically and virtually. The user interacts with the environment using ``the wand'', a simple tracked input device containing a joystick and 3 buttons. It is used to navigate around the virtual world,and to manipulate virtual objects within that world.

MISSION-STATEMENT of the Multi-Mega-Book

* To explore the technological potential of the CAVE: (cave virtual environment); to explore and expand the boundaries of traditional artistic media and of visitor participation in an art-work.
* To create an application which will be an example of how an inmersive, interface technology, such as the CAVE, can be used to illustrate and interpret a crucial transformation in the evolution of communication and technology.
* To create an emotional, immersive experience for the public of being in different centuries and in different worlds all in one unique container, the Multi Mega Book in the Cave.
* To stimulate the visitor, both through audio/visual impact and through the sense of excitement and control that navigating through and interacting with a VR environment brings.
* To make the interface with the complex technology invisible and the illusion seamless, so that the visitor is caught up in the spirit of the experience and does not feel threatened by metallic lifeless machinery.
* Creating and integrating Avatars, which will be used for CAVE to CAVE interaction over high speed networks, so that users in different geographical locations can share this VR Renaissance city and 21st century city.
* To develop a more intensely aesthetic interpretation of imagery and visual design in a Virtual Reality environment. To use VR and the Cave as a conclusive experience for the creation of a new language in design and in the visualization of information.


The age of the "scrivener" is transformed by the arrival of the printing industries - the printed book is itself transformed by the arrival of digital "inputs". There is a change and we are part of this revolution. Instead of fearing that run-away-technology will create a collective amnesia in culture and in literature, we like to approach and use the media to invent new technological systems, to construct new memories, to develope contemporary ways of communication and to extend the idea and the concept of the communication, the ways you approach the intangibility and versatility of information. Lets deal with content in a much more creative, free and futuristic way, more adapted to the way people communicate today: creating new information pathways which are interactive, volatile, versatile, radical but always aesthetically challenging and sublime!!

How does attendees interact with the Multi-Mega-Book
(Description of the interactive experience in the CAVE)

... folding the Multi Mega Book

I enter the Cave, put on the glasses, pick up the wand and the 3D architectonic structure of the MultiMegaBook rises up in front of me occupying my entire field of vision. I am free to manipulate the MMB. I zoom it in and out, walk around it, see it from the back, from the front, make it smaller or as big as I wish. The touch screen is composed of two arrows (one left and one right) placed in front of the MMB and hanging in space ... clicking on it, I can move the pages, righ/left ... meanwhile images and objects, flying from the far emptyness slip into the BOOK.

Nem in the middle of the "Renaissance City"

I get to the Page dedicated to the shift between printed and electronic text. I touch it and the Page collapses into a completely different 3D environment ... I am inside a real city ... which surrounds me on every side. Buildings, streets, squares, arches, corners, sculptures, objects, paintings of the epoch reveal that this is a renaissance city. Pieces by artists of the calibre of Michelangelo, Alberti, Boticelli, Leonardo, Brunneleschi are painted like murals onto the walls of buildings and become protagonists in this imaginary city which contains such buildings as: Santa Maria della Grazie, Santa Maria del Fiore, gli Uffizzi, Piazza degli Innoccenti, Palazzo Pitty, the Laurenziana. In the real world these buildings are in Rome, Florence, Milan ... but I find them here in this ideal unique environment rich in symmetry, colour and depth.

Santa Maria del Fiore, the Dome of Florence

A stone grey floor emerges beneath my feet, the street seems endless. It leads from one corner to another, through passageways and porticos, from building to building. The buildings are real size, with fine details and meticulous facades. Their slight sepia colour contrasts with the intense blue of the mediterrean sky. The richly ornamented environment, together with the 3D music and the holophonic effect, work on my audio/visual senses until I feel completely immersed in this epoch.
What shall I do! I think for a few seconds: I can fly, see, walk, navigate ... I decide to go for the aerial view. I fly around stopping on top of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, the Dome of Florence. I can see Brunneleschi“s revolutionary technique, the construction of the cupola. I move the wand slightly and the cupola grows up before my eyes, as if I were really in that epoch watching it's construction.
I fly down, navigate and enter the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. I wander around, slip out ... take a look at the paintings hanging on the walls. I see the Uffizzi, the Plalazzo Pitty, ... keep navigating through the streets.

Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano.

Far on the horizon I recognize another famous building of the epoch: Santa Maria delle Grazie. This building was built in the 15th century in Milan and is partly attributed to Brunneleschi. Inside, in the reffettorio, Leonardo Da Vinci depicted the LAST SUPPER. I go towards it ... look around the building, enjoy the facade and the aerial view. Then I penetrate the wall: red wire-frame lines forming the inner architectural structure of the church begin to appear, after some seconds, the space is filled by the complete structure composed in red wire-frame. I navigate within the wire of the Column, Arcades, Vaults which gives me a real feeling of the volume and space of this building. I am submerged in the music and the architecture of the entire space.

Last Supper Painting

In the distance I recognize the painting of Last Supper ... I navigate towards it. I take the wand, point to the painting, and am transported inside the "reffettorio" ... At the end of this space I again see the painting hanging high on the wall. As I approach the Last Supper it becomes transparent, I touch the wall! it transforms into a 3D space.

"Inside the Last Supper"

The Last Supper becomes real! I am inside, close to the apostles, I can walk around the table and look out of the painting, back out into the refrettorio from the viewpoint of Christ. But the surprise is not finished, Judas is getting up, he walks through the table and disappears into the emptyness. I walk out of the painting and find myself back in the city. Wandering around, I decide to follow the green path to the "Piazza Campidoglio" a square in Rome. The design is by Michelangelo. The floor becomes transparent like a glass and underneath I recognize the city of Florence. I walk on top of it as if I were walking on a glass surface ...

The Square of "Piazza Campidoglio"

... suddenly my attention is attracted by flying pages ... printed pages with antique design ... movable type. I navigate forward and discover that they are flying out from the "Libreria Laurenziana", also designed by Michelangelo and constructed in the center of Florence.

... interacting with "Gutenberg's Printing Press" and the movable types.

"Gutenberg's Printing press"

I enter the library and there I find the original printing press invented by Gutenberg functioning as if this was the XV century! I can grab the type and the movable letters, compose phrases, lay them down under the template, place a sheet of paper inside and print it out. Splash! Pages with renaissance images, illustrations of helicocentrism, contemporary navigation, and discoveries, appear.

Shift to the CD_City

My exploration continues ... I discover a light blue transparent gateway. Objects are flying out of it: papers, pixels, books, disks, streams of light ... I slip in and I find myself travelling inside a tunnel, a very fast vortex among other objects ... codes, numbers, keywords, symbols, machines, fragments of landscapes, layers of 'networks', the images and sounds are intense and bombard me from all sides ... I fly up, everything becomes like a vortex and Flash! The space morphs into a different environment. It is the dimension of the 2000's I have made the switch from the 1500's to the 2000's.

Navigating in the CD-City

Pages morph into discs, a highway of information streams by, discs whirl ... everything is turning in a high-speed vortex ... layers of network landscapes appear ... comming from all directions ... streaming towards different information nodes ... hypermedia, networking ... keywords floating into space ... visible like the expansion of a drop of oil dropped into water ... there are no boundaries ... everything expands into an open cyber space ... connected by electronic streams. This is the city of the 2000“s existing within the inner part of a CD ... the microscopic work of the inner part of the CD becomes a mega universe.

NEM-the network-agent

I can slip up through the roof of the CD_City and WHOOSH, I am instantaneously transported back to the Multi Mega Book ... it is through the Multi Mega Book that I can travel through time and space ...

F.A.B.R.I.CATORS s.a.s - Via Fratelli Bronzetti 6 - Milano/Italy
Phone: ++39-2-70128233 - Fax: 76110498 - email:fabricat@galactica.it