Spinning Interactively


Barry Diller’s IAC (InterActive Corp) made headlines across the United States when it unveiled plans to construct its new headquarters, designed by Frank Gehry, to be located in New York City. After 20 months of construction, the building made its debut in late 2006.

Unveiled with the building was an interactive installation made available to curious guests. The installation, initially designed by Feed Tank, was a giant globe projected along a wall.

Individuals are able to manipulate which part of the globe they wish to explore and which IAC-owned company they would like to know more about. Putting these two elements together, spectators are introduced to real-time data about what people are looking at on each company site and where these same people are looking at the information from.

The Molecule was responsible for the aesthetics and functionality of the installation (otherwise stated, the “what” and the “how”). Working with Warren Z, Unified Field, and IAC, the installation’s final design was created over a 5 month period.

Using the program MotionBuilder allowed us to render the globe in real-time, as well as respond to external triggers. While MotionBuilder is generally used for motion capture it was a good choice for the creation of this installation because of its ability to receive information from multiple sources (i.e. the network, the mouse, etc.), and it runs a real-time node based math and animation engine called relations.

In the final design there are multiple shading layers involved, including a land layer, 2 light layers. a haze layer and cloud layers. The “twinkling light shader” used was written in an open GL shading language (CgFX) which created a cool real-time effect that’s not possible out of the box.

As for the “how,” it should be stated that the final installation spans about 15 different computer languages over 4 computers.

As well, it aggregates over 150 channels of data. Half of the programs code goes into collecting the data and the other half is responsible for then displaying it. Thus, coordination between the IAC companies to be included on the installation provided for an interesting challenge.

At its conception, the installation incorporated 25-30 companies and over time that number has both swelled and shrunk- a good example of the dynamic nature of the installation.


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