Eddo Stern’s Portal Wormhole Flythrough at ZERO1 by Julia Bradshaw

A better placement of Eddo Stern’s Portal Wormhole Flythrough could not have been conceived: on the campus of a major university in a valley steeped in programming and gaming culture and in recognizing that the university is a form of Portal in itself.

In gaming culture a Portal is a pathway to another side, an entry way of sorts. It is a term synonymous with access or a gateway. The wormhole/flythrough suggests the action of sucking into, or being transported to another side in a rather reckless and uncontrolled manner.

The ubiquitous portal in animation and on the internet provides dizzying, spiraling visuals in Eddo Stern’s Portal Wormhole Flythrough on the SJSU Campus, by Tower Hall

photograph: Everett Taasevigen

According to Stern the internet is littered with fragments of gaming portals created by students in 3-D animation classes. It is an elementary classroom exercise designed to teach students 3-D animation basics in a real world application manner. Stern has appropriated these animations and amalgamated them to create a 10 minute video loop which is projected onto a 16 foot aluminum structure.

For Stern the notion of Portal has become ubiquitous. By finding and appropriating a myriad of animated Portals, he is making a commentary on the ever-present notion of the Portal in everyday life. Just what do we want to escape to anyway?

The video loop is a constantly changing environment of rotating funnel like imagery. The concept of being sucked into or falling into the funnel is highlighted by the metal housing, which looks like a warped octagonal shape. In the center of this shape, Stern projects his video loop. Each appropriated video clip is fairly short, 5-10 seconds and then it is replaced seamlessly with the next. Some suggest rotation and the notion of spinning uncontrollably. Some achieve this effect just using two colors, other are more ambitious with the color palette. The wide variety of source material is apparent through the alterations of video quality – but that just enhances the ubiquitous nature of the Portal as a gaming device. They are in everyone’s YouTube.

And Stern should know; he is obsessive about fantasy computer games. One year, he spent over 2000 hours immersed in playing World of Warcraft – a massively multi-user online game. Currently he teaches at California Institute of the Arts.

Portal is best viewed after dark. It is located on the San José State University campus between the Martin Luther King Library and the Tower Hall. It will be on the campus until the end of September.

More information on 01SJ: http://01sj.org

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