Inside 'Infinity Room,' a dazzling SXSW art installation

Where architecture and media combine to create "alternate realities."

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    Refik Anadol crafts alternate realities, not for VR headsets, but through architecture, projection and sound. His installation, Infinity Room, has been three years in the making so far. It began as a research project during Anadol's master of fine arts studies at UCLA design media arts department, and has evolved and matured since.

    Infinity Room is an enclosed cube measuring 12 feet in all three dimensions. Four laser projectors beam various animations that envelop the square room's walls, while the floor and ceiling are covered in mirrors. The result is an intense space that at once offers sensory deprivation and overload.

    Upon entering, a vivid monotone constellation slowly passed horizontally around the space. Coupled with the mirrored floor and ceiling, this motion was truly disorienting; with no "solid ground" to focus on, it felt dizzying, almost like I was moving, rather than standing still. There are several algorithms the space cycles through, each with their own soundtracks and visuals, which Anadol said create their own alternative reality experiences.

    Anadol is the recipient of Google's Art and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award, and has been exploring new ways to collide architecture and media. He's also set up an Infinity Room-like space inside VR, but believes that there is much more work to be done in the physical realm before exploring a virtual one.

    "We have so many opportunities in the physical world that we have never explored," said Anadol "... If you know this much better, then the leap to VR experiences will be much more meaningful, much more impactful."

    Click here to catch up on the latest news from SXSW 2017.

    Aaron writes about design, technology, video games, and whatever 'culture' is supposed to be. After cutting his teeth at The Verge, he joined Engadget as a Senior Editor in 2014. In his spare time he enjoys scouring the world for beautiful furniture, taking long walks on the beach, training orphaned dolphins, and making up facts about himself.

    Ethics: Aaron's partner is an employee of a video game publisher. She also writes various games, comics and other fiction. Aaron will never have input on coverage related to that work.
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