Placeholder: Landscape and narrative in a virtual environment

Brenda Laurel, Rob Tow, and Rachel Strickland, Interval Research,,

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 19, 1993


Placeholder was a project that explored connections between landscape and narrative activity in a virtual environment. Produced this past summer at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada, the project was co-sponsored by the Banff Centre and Interval Research Corporation. Three virtual locations, based on actual places in the vicinity of Banff, were created using various techniques of "capture" and simulation. A narrative dimension was also developed, including characters, story materials, and various interactive affordances. The system supported two participants.

In the seminar, we will give an overview of the project, then focus on several key issues, including the sense of place, the concept of narrative play as an interactive form, virtual-environment interface conventions and controversies, and implementation issues in the medium.


Brenda Laurel is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on human-computer interaction and cultural aspects of technology. She is a Member of the Research Staff at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California. She is editor of the book, _The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design_ [Addison-Wesley 1990] and author of _Computers as Theatre_ [Addison-Wesley 1991; 2nd edition 1993].

Rachel Strickland is an architect, videographer, and interaction designer. Her work of the past 20 years has focused on cinematic dimensions of places in people's everyday experience. She has taught film and video production at MIT and UC Santa Cruz. Before joining Interval Research Corporation, she directed interactive video projects for Apple Computer's Vivarium Program and other research labs.

Rob Tow is a researcher who has two granted and three pending patents in the realm of applied visual psychophysics and perception. He's a Member of the Research Staff at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California, and has worked at various research and engineering labs including Xerox PARC, Schlumberger Palo Alto Research, Compression Labs Inc, Fairchild Camera & Instrument, and Northrop Aviation.


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