The Bush of Goats

Marc Williams, writer & designer: 'Life's too short for empty slog ans'


I recently waded through the process of partitioning my MacBook and installing Windows Vista alongside OS X. So now I can boot up as a Mac or a PC.
They look fairly similar on a superficial level, although they’re guided by different structural prinicples, but there is one thing Macs doesn’t have that Windows does is. PhotoSynth.
This truly is an amazing bit of software. What Photosynth does is take images you upload to it and reconstruct the scene in 3D, allowing you to navigate through the scene and get a different perspective on a scene or location. What’s it like? You know that bit in Blade Runner, where Decker asks the computer to go behind the pillar and essentially make stuff up? It’s a bit like that – or rather, you can see how we might get to that with Photosynth as a start point. One more portion of science fiction being redelivered as science fact.
What most interests me about Photosynth is its potential for constructing stories and for playing with time. It could be great for leading people through an event as it evolves, or for hiding treats and treasures for those who look in the right areas of a scene; for guiding people to specific points of interest. But I suspect it’s real potential will be revealed by an event observed by a mass of people, who all upload their shots to a single ‘synth’ (I even love the jargon) and create multiple viewpoints of an event. In fact, imagine being able to do that automatically. A ‘synth’ button on cameras that automatically adds the shot you’ve just taken to those of other users who have previously been in the same place.
Below is a synth I made, exploring some of these ideas: can you find the passageway into another scene?

Fishcombe Cove, Devon

So, the big thing happened – Obama’s Inauguration gathered together the photos of lots of different people and now you can see it on a Mac, using ‘Silverlight’: you should just be offered the chance to install it by clicking the synth above.


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November 2008


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