lb to sf via bike from vince mckelvie on Vimeo.

What will become of 3D gaming engines when in the hands of new digital artists? You’ll get plenty of surprises and unexpected artwork. This is no ordinary California bicycle trip: it’s a trippy, Magical Mystery Tour in 3D, played as a game from a (real) stationary bike.

Reader Bince McKelvie writes to describe his project:

Lb to Sf via bike is an interactive installation/game that documents a bike trip my friend and I took from long beach to san francisco. The user rides a stationary bike through a the 3d world by pedaling forward and steering with the bike handle bars. The world consists of three mini games and a huge chunk of the california coast. I am going to be releasing a version that is playable on a computer without the hardware soon. It is made with the blender game engine, a bit of processing, a wii controller and the makingthings board.

By the way, if you happen to be near CalArts in Valencia, the piece will be exhibited there May 2-15.

With the exception of the (very affordable) Wii controller, this is all free and open source technology in the toolchain. In addition to Processing [site | cdmo tag], it’s a fascinating use of the Blender Game Engine. Not satisfied with being just a hugely-powerful, free and open-source, triple-platform (Mac/Windows/Linux) 3D design tool and video composition tool, Blender also has a real-time engine built in – something well worth considering if you’re looking for a live 3D performance and installation environment. That’s already gotten attention for this piece from the excellent Blender blog BlenderNation.

The 3D models and physics are sometimes a bit rough around the edges, but I actually rather like that effect: in a world of look-alike, big budget 3D creations, I can imagine a renaissance of “outside art” for 3D.

Hope to have more details on this and the tools soon.