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The Tunnel under the Atlantic

The Tunnel under the Atlantic is an interactive art installation by Maurice Benayoun that first was exhibited in September 1995. The visitors where invited to dig, inside memory, a virtual tunnel between the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal and enabled hundreds of people from both sides to meet. 

The Tunnel under the Atlantic is a work using televirtuality that allows the users to meet each others and to interact in the virtual space they have created together. A person enters on each side of the virtual tunnel that links the museums and then the two users progressively move forward meeting each others. The way surface they open up in the process of forging, reveals the equivalent of geological strata, converted here into iconographic strata. These discoveries enhance the dialogue between the two participants. Thus, each participant shares a complementary part of the same musical composition.

Technically, it uses a sophisticated “3D Digging Engine” developed by Tristan Lorach, who notes that it ” “allows you to dig holes everywhere. At the end of the day if you made holes everywhere, the caves start to look really cool. The whole level in which I am flying is made by the user itself and not a level that I loaded. You can create miles and miles of caves without slowing-down the framerate of the engine. It was meant to be multi-players…”  See

This VR artwork exemplifies what Benayoun calls “architecture of communication.” As another way to explore limits of communication, after Hole in Space (1980) by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, The Tunnel under the Atlantic introduces the concept of dynamic semantic shared space.

Visit the artist website for more information