Christa Sommerer studied Biology (Botany) and Arts (Sculpture) in Vienna, Austria. Since 1990 she works on the combination of Arts and Science. Early works questioned this relationship in a metaphorical sense.Laurent Mignonneau's studies include Experimental Music, Applied Arts and Design and Computer Graphics. Since 1992 Sommerer and Mignonneau collaborate in the research for new interfaces and real-time interactive computer installations and the field of "Artificial Life".
Anthroposcope is an interactive microscope, which connects the pulse of a human viewer to virtually growing and evolving micro-organisms in the viewfinder of a Carl Zeiss microscope. By attaching a small pulse sensor onto his finger the viewer will be connected to the microscope. This pulse sensor now analyzes the frequency and amplitude of the human pulse; data and information like speed of the heart beat, magnitude and strength of the pulse get measured. These data differ from viewer to viewer, they directly effect the growth and evolution of the virtual organisms living in the space of the real-virtual microscope.
By using the functions of the microscope the viewer now can explore these organisms. A fine and coarse zoom as well as the specimen plates movement in x-, y- and z coordinate will enable the viewer in the exploration and discovery of new organisms. These organisms evolve constantly different, since they are linked to the viewer's individual heart beat and pulse. Their rate of growth, their size and their movement are effected by the frequency and amplitude of the viewer's personal pulse.
The viewer acts as a randomizing factor, since the influence on his own pulse is certaily restricted. Still, he can try to change his pulse by breathing stronger or for example by causing more pressure in his blood cycle. The ability of using the microscope as well as the skill of influencing the own pulse will enable the viewer in the discovery of new worlds of micro organisms.
As a difference to the first version of "Anthroposcope" this second improved version contains virtual organisms that are not pre-defined but created in real-time through the viewer's pulse. The viewer will be able to focus upon specific organisms, he can "catch" them with the movement of the specimen plate and also zoom deeper inside them in order to explore deeper levels of organical growth.
All micro-organisms are three-dimensional, they move in space and react simultaneously to the viewer's decisions. In a way they directly react to the viewer, but are still somehow independent, since they are connected to the pulse, which follows its own rules.
The forms are characterized through "develepment in time", which means that they are created in real-time, without pre-design.This ability of real-time design is a feature that has been developed by Mignonneau & Sommerer also for the "A-Volve" interactive environment, where virtual organisms are created in real-time through the viewer's design. These animal like creatures live in the space of a water-filled glass pool and interact with the hands of the viewers in the water. The concept of real-time creation of forms as well as the combination of viewer's personality and the individuality of organical virtual organisms are characteristics for the "Artificial Biotope" created by Sommerer & Mignonneau.
Individuality is a main characteristics of life; it constitutes the minute differences between individual. All virtual reality installations of Sommerer & Mignonneau, as they are "Interactive Plant Growing", "Anthroposcope" and "A-Volve" deal with this relationship and work on the visualization of virtually living organisms that are produced and influenced by the viewers individuality and his personal decisions.
"Anthroposcope" is, so to speak, a counterpart to the installations "Interactive Plant Growing" and "A-Volve". Both installations reflect the individuality of several visitors at the same time, by producing a virtual environment characterized through the interaction between real and unreal, life and artificial life.
"Anthroposcope" is a virtual environment that is to be used only by one person at the time. In a way it is a more personal experience, since the viewer will interact and focus upon his own internal micro-organisms. In this enhanced version other viewers will also share this experience, they will be able to watch the images of the viewfinder on a large projection screen outside.