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Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL)

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  • software engineer
  • pioneer
  • artist
  • The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) is a graduate research laboratory specializing in virtual reality and real-time interactive computer graphics. It is a joint effort of University of Illinois - Chicago's College of Engineering and School of Art and Design, and it represents the oldest formal collaboration between engineering and art in the country, offering graduate degrees to those specializing in visualization.

  • In 1976, Larry Cuba came to the lab to create his wireframe Death Star simulation for George Lucas' Star Wars film.

  • Star Wars - Death Star graphics by Larry Cuba

    In 1976, Larry Cuba came to the lab to create his wireframe Death Star simulation for George Lucas' Star Wars film.

  • The EVL started its life in 1973 as Circle Graphics Habitat, part of the effort by then Vice Chancellor Joe Lipson to utilize interactive computer graphics and low-cost video (which had just become available) to make an impact on undergraduate education. This reflected a commitment to using technology in education and a belief in its transformative power, which have again become important in the '90s. The Lab's earliest home was in the Chemistry department, which already boasted the most advanced ...

  • in the beginning

    The EVL started its life in 1973 as Circle Graphics Habitat, part of the effort by then Vice Chancellor Joe Lipson to utilize interactive computer graphics and low-cost video (which had just become available) to make an impact on undergraduate education. This reflected a commitment to using technology in education and a belief in its transformative power, which have again become important in the '90s. The Lab's earliest home was in the Chemistry department, which already boasted the most advanced computer graphics available for state-of-the-art chemical modeling[md]a Vector General Calligraphic Display (PDP 11/45). The earliest goal was to develop computer-based introductory material for the chemistry curriculum with the basic premise that this would constitute a self-paced learning environment specifically designed for the varying entry levels of students at an urban university.

  • Circle Graphics Habitat brought together Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin. The media development system they designed used DeFanti's Graphics Symbiosis System and the Sandin Image Processor. The Graphics Symbiosis System (GRASS) was a computer graphics language that DeFanti had developed for his Ph.D. thesis. The Sandin Image Processor was a patch-programmable analog video synthesizer. A combination of the two systems was the basis of a video production facility for the generation of educational materials. Sandin was a faculty member of ...

  • Circle Graphics Habitat

    Circle Graphics Habitat brought together Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin. The media development system they designed used DeFanti's Graphics Symbiosis System and the Sandin Image Processor. The Graphics Symbiosis System (GRASS) was a computer graphics language that DeFanti had developed for his Ph.D. thesis. The Sandin Image Processor was a patch-programmable analog video synthesizer. A combination of the two systems was the basis of a video production facility for the generation of educational materials. Sandin was a faculty member of the sculpture department, where he taught video and was involved with the making of electronically based, interactive, kinetic sculpture. Circle Graphics therefore also brought together chemists, engineers, and artists. An equally important early goal for the Lab was to use the systems created to make art. The GRASS and Image Processor systems were used to make real-time animations that were distributed on the experimental video circuit. The Lab also organized a series of Real-Time Interactive Installations and Performances—performance in the music tradition rather than in the newer sense of performance art.

  • The first EVE (1973) event was actually an IEVE : Interactive Electronic?Visualization Event. The performers were faculty and students of Chicago Circle (UIC) and of the School of the Art Institute. The performances took place in the rotunda of the Science and?Engineering South building. In the evenings, images manipulated using the GRASS system and analog?processor were projected onto large video screens and shown on monitors to the accompaniment of?live music. "Real time," with respect to these performances, meant that the ...

  • The first Electronic Visualization Event

    The first EVE (1973) event was actually an IEVE : Interactive Electronic?Visualization Event. The performers were faculty and students of Chicago Circle (UIC) and of the School of the Art Institute. The performances took place in the rotunda of the Science and?Engineering South building. In the evenings, images manipulated using the GRASS system and analog?processor were projected onto large video screens and shown on monitors to the accompaniment of?live music. "Real time," with respect to these performances, meant that the images changed?instantaneously as the controls were manipulated. In effect, the performers "played" both musical instruments and visuals. The performances were improvisational in a variety of musical?styles. Preparation involved not only technical and programming issues but extensive jamming. The?interactivity of Interactive Electronic Visualization Event was supplied during the day when the audience could come and play with the equipment. Subsequently, the "I" was dropped, and EVE2 and EVE3 continued as performances, which were interactive for the performers but not for the audience.?EVE1 was the prototype, establishing the possibility of such an event. EVE2 (1975) involved a lot more planning and quality control of content but was also held in the rotunda with live musical?accompaniment. EVE3, in 1977, still emphasized the real-time possibilities of this medium. However,?the performers felt that the logistics of organizing a complicated live performance and a large-scale physical event were beginning to interfere with aesthetic goals. Therefore, the?performances were recorded in front of a small studio audience and were edited on a deck. The?finished show took place in the auditorium of the First National Bank, and the computer graphics and sound were played back on a light-valve projector. By the end of the '70s, calligraphic systems were?being replaced by raster graphics systems with framebuffering. Except in the video games industry,?computer graphics became very static. The possibility of interacting in real time with graphics is?only becoming a possibility in the '90s.