I really adore Julian Oliver’s work; he’s constantly finding ways of making three-dimensional, virtual spaces more expressive. We’ve seen Quake as a musical instrument, gaming actors as insane digital painters, and 3D interactive game equivalents of Grantz Graf. But this piece is unusually poetic and moving to me. It features a figure inside a virtual space, placed over real-world blocks by augmented reality gaming technology. Your role in the game is to navigate this figure through an M.C. Escher-style, three-dimensional labyrinth. It reminds me of toy theater and puppetry pieces, extended to the digital domain. And that’s just the idea of releasing tools into the open source, that artists could pick up the basic infrastructure of a digital project and build upon it, doing something unexpected – just as with any artistic technique, that the resulting art would be more important than the tool used to make it.

The video is a “spoiler” in that, if you have really good spatial memory, I suppose it could give away the game. I don’t, though, so I look forward to playing this tangible game at some point in the future. Eat your heart out, Portal.

levelHead v1.0, 3 cube speed-run (spoiler!) from Julian Oliver on Vimeo.

Via MAKE:blog; see also (in Spanish) Edgar Gonzalez.

For more Julian Oliverism, see his blog:


— a detailed keynote where he explores cartography (also of interest in terms of visual language):

Inclusiva-Net Madrid Keynote

— and an extensive interview and bibliography by our friend, VJ and artist Jean Poole (Sean Healy), which pulls together a lot of Julian’s work, in particular his Internet visualization Packet Garden (seen at right):

Julian Oliver : The Art of Gardening