March 13, 2000


Exploring the outer limits of cyberspace


By Katie Johnston/The Gazette (Colorado Springs)


Eddo Stern doesn't play online video games like most



He delves into virtual worlds with cameras, surveying

cyber-land activities and streaming them live onto his

Web site. He programs his characters to act out

performance art and has a robot-like machine that can

take a human's place at the keyboard.


To Stern, virtual reality is a new palette for his

artistic and computer programming passion.

"The Internet is much more interesting than any art done

on the Internet," says Stern, 28, who teaches film at

the University of Southern California and art at the

University of California, San Diego.


A few years ago, using three computers and three copies

of the game EverQuest, Stern created three identical

characters all controlled by a triple mouse that sent

the same commands to each one. The project, which

allowed for user interaction, ran in a German art show

for a few months. Stern updated it for a transfer to

Liverpool, England, adding a chip that forced the

characters to run laps around the virtual city.


From there, he started setting up "surveillance cameras"

in different games to capture gaming traffic, as well as

his characters stalking others and doing a flamenco

dance, to broadcast on his Web site, "I havenŐt seen any

much surveillance of this sort," he says, comparing it to the rather

ridiculous presence of cameras filming the Golden Gate

Bridge or the zoo. "Online gaming worlds are quite fascinating

social spaces."He contacted the makers of EverQuest several

times to talk to them about using their game in his art shows,

but never heard back. He will meet with game designers

to discuss such proprietary issues at an upcoming gaming

conference at USC, and even though he knows that Sony

recently sued a man who wrote software that automated

characters in EverQuest, he's not necessarily concerned.

"As long as they're not suffering market share, I don't

think they care," he says.

Stern's latest endeavor is creating a physical medieval

environment around his game-playing robot.

"I think there's always going to be this impulse to sort

of go beyond the rules," he says.

"It (the Internet's virtual reality) is pretty much




Copyright 1999-2000, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All

rights reserved. Contact us.