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Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL)

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EVL is a graduate research laboratory specializing in virtual reality and real-time interactive computer graphics; it is a joint effort of UIC's College of Engineering and School of Art and Design, and represents the oldest formal collaboration between engineering and art in the country offering graduate degrees to those specializing in visualization.

Over the past several years, EVL has teamed with computer scientists, computational scientists and engineers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory to collect, maintain, develop, distribute, and evaluate virtual reality (VR) tools and techniques for scientific computing.

EVL also maintains active relationships with organizations that foster the growth of Electronic Art such as the Ars Electronica Center in Austria, (art)n Laboratory in Chicago, SIGGRAPH, and the International Society for Electronic Arts. Students, faculty and staff regularly participate in art conferences and exhibitions.

EVL is widely recognized for developing the CAVE and ImmersaDesk virtual reality display systems in 1992 and 1995 respectively. EVL's current research focus is "tele-immersion" - enabling users in different locations around the world to collaborate over high-speed networks in shared, virtual environments as if they were together in the same room.

Tele-Immersion is the extension of the "human/computer interaction" paradigm to "human/computer/human collaboration," with the computer providing real-time data in shared, collaborative environments. Tele-Immersion will enable computational scientists and engineers to interact with each other (the "tele-conferencing" paradigm) as well as with computational models, over distance. It will also provide easy access to integrated heterogeneous distributed computing environments, whether supercomputers, remote instrumentation, networks, or mass storage devices, using advanced real-time 3D immersive interfaces.

Related research interests include scientific visualization, new methodologies for informal science and engineering education, paradigms for information display, distributed computing, sonification, human/computer interfaces, every-citizen interfaces, and abstract math visualization. EVL is also involved in evaluating virtual reality as an educational tool.

EVL art projects and collaborations have shown world-wide at exhibitions, conferences and in museums. EVL students and faculty created the first CAVE VR exhibition for the opening of the Ars Electronica Center in Austria in 1996, and subsequent projects showed there in 1997 and 1998. EVLers consistently present VR and animation work at SIGGRAPH. Lab presentations and individual projects by EVLers have shown at ISEA, Mediartech, Imagina, and Art Futura.

The VR art pieces created at EVL are part of the process of refining and redefining what VR is and what it can be. As such they represent art and science; they are both art-works and experiments. The pieces explore interaction, narrative, the creation of abstract worlds, metaphorical worlds, worlds that visualize mathematical structures. There are networked pieces where users can interact, collaborate, and play with remote users accessing the virtual world from other VR devices. EVL's interactive art works engage viewers in experiences that break the traditional boundaries of art and science, and encourages active participation in the creation of visually compelling environments.

EVL students also create web-based art, animation, film and video, sound-art, sound activated graphics, real-time performances, and installations that combine all and any of these elements.

EVL's goal is to encourage the development of teams, tools, hardware, system software, and human interface models on an accelerated schedule to enable national-scale, multi-site collaborations. EVL promotes the use of these advanced technologies to academic, industrial, government and lay audiences, through installations at museums and professional conferences, to make people aware of the potential of the technology that exists and to affirm that technology is key to America's leadership role.

See Also