Erik Loyer: Chroma

  • ©2002, Erik Loyer
  • Chroma screen grab





Creation Year:



Artist Statement:

    If you could redesign your body, what form would it take?

    A computer interface is a filter that translates human action into digital space. Thus, it gives us a new body within that space, defined by its parameters. Interface design gains an ethical dimension in the degree to which it limits or augments our natural capabilities. For eight years, I’ve been exploring real-time interactive animation as a way to give the user a presence within the screen that is responsive, conceptual, and intimate. I rely heavily on algorithmic animations that react instantly to mouse movement, presented in a narrative context where they become expressive of the thoughts and emotions of characters in a story.

    Chroma is a large-scale application of this approach, in both its form and its content. An experimental interactive Web narrative, the site explores the nature of racial identity in the digital environment. Chroma follows four characters as they construct new digital bodies for themselves, encountering thorny questions of identity and race along the way. The piece is episodic in nature, containing 25 total episodes that are published on my interactive art site, “The Lair of the Marrow Monkey,” as they are produced:

Technical Information:

    Chroma was authored using Macromedia Director and is experienced via the Shockwave plug-in. The piece is built on a custom Director-based multimedia engine called “Mneme,” which handles the complex animation and synchronization tasks required for each chapter.

    Most of Chroma‘s animation is algorithmic (generated dynamically by the program code). In this way, the visuals can be as responsive as possible to the user’s actions without increasing the download time of the chapters. As a result, Chroma delivers more experience per kilobyte
    downloaded than the typical Web site.

    The visual design of Chroma was developed using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, with some complex vector elements converted to Macromedia Flash format for inclusion in the various Director movies.

    Chroma‘s voice-overs were recorded on a DigiDesign ProTools system, and the final musical score was recorded and mixed with Steinberg’s Cubase software in conjunction with a Mark of the Unicorn 2408 mkII audio interface. Streaming Audio was compressed into the Shockwave format using SoundEd.

Process Information:

    “This amoeba-like object starts to slowly increase in size, and then organically grows three ‘legs.’ These legs are in constant, fluid motion, like the tentacles of a sea anemone or the legs of a floating starfish. The appearance of the legs coincides with Dr. Anders’ reading of the names of his proteges.” – From the script for Chapter Three of Chroma

Other Information:


    1-3: Sketches
    4-6: Prototypes
    7-9: Screenshots

All Works by the Artist(s) in This Archive: