Michael Sy
Star Maps


Michael Sy recently finished his graduate studies in communication and new media design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. His thesis investigates the potential of a virtual approach towards the creation of new urban systems in Los Angeles. Michael has a background in architecture and is interested in navigating the in-between spaces that intersect architecture, interactivity, technology, and socio-political issues. His projects, which includes web sites and interactive video installations, explore the possibilities of creating spatial experiences where the virtual is every much a part of the everyday environment rather than being a separate and fantastic entity.

Conceptual Description

Star Maps traces a personal journey through the urban landscape of Los Angeles. In a city where the perception of one's environment is greatly influenced by the media, the boundary between reality and fantasy is often blurred. At the same time, one of the unique characteristics of Los Angeles is its unpredictable nature. Star Maps uses the "map of the stars homes" as a basis for examining these contradictions in relation to the user's own assumptions.

An existing "map of the stars homes" in Beverly Hills is randomly overlaid onto a typical street map of Los Angeles (in this case Central L.A.). Narratives about the actual stars homes are then played against the corresponding spaces on the map of Central L.A. The user navigates through Star Maps based on the volume and duration of his or her vocal tone. As users "zoom" in and out of various spatial environments, their attempts to uncover the "truth" only yields more layers.

main feature

The unusual form of interaction based on the volume and duration of the user's vocal tone, questions not only typical modes of interaction in computer based media, but also the addresses the central issue of the project- evaluating our own interaction with the everyday urban environment.

All images, text, and sounds by Michael Sy except as noted.
narration, California Cassette Driving Tours, 1995
star map, Rockwell Enterprises, Inc., 1996
street map, Thomas Bros. Maps, 1990
GetSoundInLevel 1.4 xobject, Geoff Smith