Swimming Across the Pacific

Swimming as a Novel Paradigm for Virtual Environment Navigation


In 2004, I was a research assistant on the Swimming Across the Pacific project of the Human Communication Technologies (HCT) Research Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) under the supervision of Dr. Sidney Fels.

Swimming Across the Pacific originated in 1999 as a collaboration among the Italian artist Alzek Misheff, Sidney Fels, and the Japanese artist Sachiyo Takahashi. The project began as a follow-up to Misheff’s Swimming Across the Atlantic (1982) performance, where the artist swam in the pool of the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 for five days as the ship sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from England to New York City. The concept of Swimming Across the Pacific modernized the performance by substituting a novel virtual reality swimming interface for the cruise ship’s pool and moved the performance to an airplane flying across the Pacific Ocean from Vancouver to Tokyo. While the actual performance has yet to take place, the swimming interface has been part of a long-term research project.

Swimming Across the Pacific — Virtual Swimming Installation (2004). 
© Human Communication Technologies (HCT) Research Laboratory. 
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; University of British Columbia.

During my tenure, I provided software enhancements, optimizations, stability, and general code cleanup, which was focused mainly on the OpenGL rendering engine. I also helped prepare and exhibit the virtual swimming platform at SIGGRAPH 2004 (Los Angeles) and Imagina 2005 (Monaco).

I am associated with the following publications related to this research project.