Wonder: Patterns for a Virtual Reality Environment - CODAworx

Wonder: Patterns for a Virtual Reality Environment

Client: Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

Location: Madison, WI, United States

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $10,000

Project Team


Lisa Frank

University of Wisconsin Design Gallery


Nathan Mitchell

University of Wisconsin-Madison Computer Sciences Program


Leslie Frank


“Wonder: Patterns for a Virtual Reality Environment” is a fifteen-minute art exhibition in 3D consisting of six explorable artworks. Although specifically designed for the immersive experience of a 6-sided CAVE, the experience of the exhibition will be remarkable using any virtual reality viewing equipment.


This project had many goals. Foremostly I wanted to create an opportunity for immersants to experience being in nature "differently" using new visualization technology. Some of the scenes are macro forest "tableaux" based on my scanography. Plant life grows large and fades away while the immersant interacts with 3D models drawn out directly from the 2D plane. Others are a reinvention of my decorative patterns. Over several years, I have taken thousands of photographs in the natural settings of forests, prairies, and wetlands. Culling through this library, I isolate elements of the photos, regroup them into motifs, and stitch them together. The resulting images are constructed patterns of substantial size and complexity, referencing traditional wallpaper design. In the CAVE, these are reinvented as interior and exterior spaces that become expansive, exploratory worlds, allowing the immersant to consider the wonders of nature from atypical perspectives. As the viewer shifts her gaze and position in virtual reality she senses that she is moving ‘through’ the pattern, that she is ‘inside’ of the pattern, that she has actually ‘become’ the pattern.


This exhibition presents the outcome of a collaboration between two different disciplines, computer science and the visual arts. With the assistance of Nathan Mitchell, a computer science graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I reinterpreted my art work using a combination of programming strategies that endow the imaginary settings with a deep sense of spaciality.

Additional Information

This is a traveling exhibition that has been presented in different venues. The exhibition package includes an on-site orientation and presentation by the artist. Presentations can specifically target the interests of classes, laboratories, centers for study, conferences, and workshops. The exhibition uses OpenSceneGraph. Videos of the CAVE exhibition are available upon request. Presentation topic examples: ~Artist Presentation: Bringing 2D Artwork into VR ~Strategies for Successful Cross-disciplinary Collaboration ~Working with Color, Light and Form in VR