Pre-Internet, children’s worlds were prescribed primarily by two institutions: the school and the family. Now, this has changed with the borders of childhood being stretched and shaped by the open-ended world of data. Like adults, children are now immersed in a world augmented by simulation. How – if at all – does this impact on identity formation in children?
With Classrooms I wanted to consider this and look at where reality ended and simulation began for networked children. In the imaginative life of the child, this question is particularly complex. In preparation for this work, I listened to parents describing the effects of online building games such as the popular Minecraft on their children. Some reported seeing their children ‘building’ in their sleep, others watching their hands scrabble about to place bricks as if building in the real world. Adults too reported dreaming about these strange worlds made of virtual blocks as they spent hours assisting their children in their construction. In Classrooms I wanted to explore this evolving relationship with simulation and digitally generated information.
In a series of photographs of classroom interiors, floating 3D visualizations hover above each desk. As the viewer takes in these images, the 3D visualizations begin to move. As they spin and rotate, they cast simulated shadows on the classroom floor, which appear as real as those cast by the classroom furniture. With this merging of photography and 3D rendering techniques I wanted to bring together the invisible world of data with the concrete world of ‘things’.