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In 1996, the (re)construction of a CAVE was the Ars Electronica Futurelab’s first experiment in creating publicly accessible virtual illusions of reality for visitors to the Ars Electronica Center. The CAVE was a novelty in the field of three-dimensional visualization, an installment which gave visitors the feeling of not just being mere spectators, but being immersed in the world projected and enabled to interact with the environment.

The CAVE (acronym for “Cave Automatic Virtual Environment”) was an immersive virtual reality installation with 3D-projections on three sides plus the floor of a cube with 3 meters on each side. It had been developed by a team around the American artist and researcher Dan Sandin and the American computer graphics pioneer Thomas A. DeFanti, directors of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) of the University of Illinois at Chicago. So far, the CAVE had found use inside academic institutions and for industrial development.

It was actually a double “coup” to install this first CAVE outside of the US at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. The CAVE at the Center would be the first to be continuously open to the public and to be used by media artists and artist-developer teams.

All in all around 50 applications and virtual worlds were presented at the CAVE during its time of operation at the Ars Electronica Center between 1996 and 2008. Amongst these were the artistic projects “World Skin” by French new media artist Maurice Benayoun and “CAVE project” by Austrian multimedia artist Peter Kogler as well as the simulation of turbine flows for MCE, a subsidiary company of voestalpine, the Linz steelworks.

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Development of the CAVE Infastructure: Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL)