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Sterling Crispin Weaves Virtual Algorithmic Landscapes

Plein Air 001 (Entropy, Terror, and the Sublime within a Cyberspace Landscape) explores the infinite fragility of cyberspace.

Plein Air 001 (Entropy, Terror, and the Sublime within a Cyberspace Landscape) from Sterling Crispin on Vimeo.

Digital artist Sterling Crispin—the curator behind—just released the documentation for his latest work Plein Air 001 (Entropy, Terror, and the Sublime within a Cyberspace Landscape).

Conceived for the California NanoSystems Institute’s AlloSphere—a 30-foot in diameter immersive virtual reality chamber—Plein Air 001 is an immersive algorithmic landscape where virtual flora grow and disappear within an echo-free 360-degree space.


The echo-free nature of the chamber “creates the sensation of being in a quiet open-space of an infinite dimension,” according to Crispin’s artist statement. “I consider the Allosphere as a portal, a vessel, a kind of high-fidelity threshold into the virtual and means of communing with this ‘other of another kind.’ In this context I found it appropriate to spill certain fundamental properties of organic growth and life into this other-space and allow for the kinds of mutations that might naturally emerge in a machine-language environment,” he continues.

The piece was developed in C++ and uses the Lindenmayer System to generate the “DNA” of the virtual plants. The title of the piece was inspired by by French impressionists such as Monet and Renoir who popularized the act of painting outdoors, which is essentially what Crispin is mimicking in the virtual realm.

Plein Air 001 also explores themes like the colonization of the American West and the sublime, furthering Crispin’s ongoing quest through the infinite nature of cyberspace. Crispin sums it up best by email, “it’s like walking into the future, or a set from a Star Trek or X-men movie.”

See for yourself in the video above.

The Allosphere from just beyond the bridge looking inward.

Behind-the-scenes view from the third floor of the Allosphere looking inward on the sphere.